Volunteer Spotlight: Nadine Wang
By Flannery Winchester
After a career in engineering, Nadine Wang has turned to volunteer climate work. “I did my graduate research on semiconductor materials for solar cells, so it’s satisfying to me to be again indirectly supporting renewable energy through climate advocacy,” she says.
Nadine holds a B.S. in electrical engineering from UC Berkeley and a Ph.D. from Princeton University. Before retirement, she worked in the University of Michigan’s semiconductor cleanroom facility. These days, her time and energy go to the Ann Arbor chapter of Citizens’ Climate Lobby and CCL’s Asian Pacific Action Team. (And, of course, to her husband and two young adult children, one of whom is also a CCL volunteer!)
“The Asian Pacific Action Team started up last summer, in 2020. It’s a reboot of an earlier action team, the Chinese Action Team, which had worked on creating a Chinese-language version of a presentation about CCL,” Nadine explains. “Dr. Suki Tamura, Nancy Dong, and I co-lead the group, and it is now renamed the Asian Pacific Action Team to make it more inclusive of all Asian and Pacific Islander Americans.”
This Sunday, the group is hosting a film screening and panel discussion of Anote’s Ark, featuring a Pacific island called Kiribati and the harm climate change is causing to the island and its people. The event is free to attend. We caught up with Nadine to learn more about the event and her journey with CCL. Here’s our conversation:
How did you first get connected with CCL?
I joined CCL in 2017. I first learned about CCL via my longtime friend Barbara Lucas, who had invited me and Ginny Rogers, the wonderful and indefatigable group leader of the Ann Arbor chapter, to one of her environmental book club meetings. I had never heard of CCL or carbon fee and dividend, and Ginny was wearing a button that said “Ask Me About Carbon Fee & Dividend,” so I did.
What made you want to get involved?
The goals and philosophy of CCL really appeal to me. Carbon fee and dividend makes so much sense. I think being an engineer makes me appreciate the importance of systemic changes in our energy use, and the influence of government policy on the direction of industry, and that’s why a strong federal carbon tax seems so essential to me. I also really like CCL’s philosophy of being respectful to all, meeting people where they are, and appreciating the work of other climate organizations.
Tell us more about the Asian Pacific Action Team. What is the team working on?
Our overarching project is to work on getting members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC), which includes about 70 members of Congress, to cosponsor the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act. We would like to support the work of chapters in lobbying CAPAC members, so if any chapter leaders would like our help or perspectives, we invite them to reach out.
Our other main goal with the Asian Pacific Action Team is to make it a comfortable and inclusive space for Asian American and Pacific Islander CCL volunteers to engage in climate activism. I’ve personally found this aspect very rewarding. I have really enjoyed meeting everyone who has joined the Asian Pacific Action Team and appreciate being part of this AAPI community within CCL. Especially now, with the disturbing increase in anti-Asian rhetoric and violence in the U.S., it’s been really nice to have new AAPI friends and a sense of shared community.
It’s also been delightful that our membership includes international CCL volunteers. Members of the new Tokyo CCL chapter have joined in: they’ve told us about the state of climate policy and carbon pricing in Japan, and that’s been so interesting.
Can you share a bit about your team co-leaders, Suki and Nancy?
Suki is a chemist and project manager at a biotech firm and belongs to the San Diego North CCL chapter. She also volunteers on CCL’s endorsements team and does Twitter posts for her chapter. Nancy is a junior at SUNY Stony Brook, double majoring in Applied Math and Technological Systems Management, and she interned with CCL last year. She belongs to the Queens-Nassau chapter.
I love working with Suki and Nancy and think we are a great team. Suki knows a huge amount about CCL, climate change, and the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act. She is a great writer, and I trust her judgment on everything. Nancy is warm, energetic, and brave. She approaches the work with enthusiasm and gets things done.
Tell us about the Anote’s Ark film event your team is hosting this month.
Anote’s Ark is a portrait of Anote Tong, the former president of Kiribati, and his efforts to bring global attention to climate change and, in particular, its devastating impact on Kiribati and other Pacific island nations. The film also looks at an I-Kiribati family as some of them migrate to New Zealand in search of jobs and a life less threatened by climate impacts but at the cost of separation from their family and culture.
We thought holding a screening and panel discussion in May would be an appropriate way to celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. Suki was also in favor, Nancy proposed making it a fundraiser, and others on the Asian Pacific Action Team agreed.
This Sunday, Nancy Dong, Lucy Xue, and Ginny Rogers will moderate the panel discussion featuring:
- Brady Fergusson, who is co-leader of CCL’s Peace Corps Action Team and served in Kiribati. He is the one who originally suggested screening Anote’s Ark.
- Mike Roman, who is also a returned Peace Corps volunteer who served in Kiribati and co-leader of the Peace Corps Action Team. I had heard Mike speak at a Great Lakes regional CCL conference a few years ago, and found his talk incredibly inspiring. Mike, whose PhD dissertation is the basis for Anote’s Ark, has been deeply involved in climate activism on behalf of Kiribati for 20 years.
- Lulu DeBoer, an artist and activist whose mother is from Kiribati, and who is making a film about Kiribati and climate change called “Millennium Island.” Lulu will be a panelist, and we will be showing a short version of her film called “Love Note to an Island.”
We’re also accepting donations to help the people of Kiribati through the Kiribati Climate Action Network (KiriCAN). KiriCAN works on many issues, but most recently they have been raising money to help provide emergency drinking water and fix broken desalination equipment on the island of Banaba, which has had an urgent water shortage.
What keeps you motivated to do this work?
One thing that keeps me motivated is the many friends I’ve made through CCL. I’ve met such wonderful people through the Ann Arbor chapter, the Asian Pacific Action Team, and other CCL channels. They are knowledgeable, kind, and care about the planet and other people. Debbie Chang of the D.C. chapter likes to say (I believe she is quoting political scientist and CCL board member Hahrie Han) that “people come for the cause, but stay for the people,” and I agree.
Another motivator is the graph showing CO2 emission targets under the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act as a function of time. It gives me hope in the face of climate change. We will need many policies and actions to combat climate change, but the fact that simply putting a sufficient price on fossil fuels could make such a dramatic contribution to reducing carbon emissions keeps me motivated. Maybe CCL should put that graph on a postcard to the president!
Got a suggestion for our Volunteer Spotlight series? Send the name, chapter, and some brief info about the volunteer to Flannery Winchester at flannery @ citizensclimatelobby.org.