Climate Hero: Ginger Cassady

Image credit: Courtesy of Rainforest Action Network

Climate Hero: Ginger Cassady

Floating on a houseboat in the San Francisco Bay lives one of the most prominent defenders of the environment. For over twenty years, Ginger Cassady has fought for forest protection, human rights, and Indigenous wisdom, while taking on some of the biggest corporations in the world contributing to climate change. She is the Executive Director of the Rainforest Action Network (RAN), preserving the wild while tackling social injustice.

Image credit: Courtesy of Rainforest Action Network

From student to Indigenous-led conservation

While obtaining a degree in biology at Colorado Mountain College, Cassady worked as a Program Coordinator at LightHawk. The nonprofit conveys conservation urgency through the power of flight by showcasing the environment from the air with over 200 volunteer pilots.

From there, Cassady attended the University of Colorado Boulder studying Environmental Science and Biology while serving as the Director of the school’s Wilderness Study Group. Shortly after, she became a Senior Campaigner at Greenpeace, leading movements challenging deforestation worldwide, from the Brazilian Amazon to Boreal forests.

In addition, Cassady served on the Board of Directors for Students for a Free Tibet, fighting human rights abuses in Southeast Asia. She also helped create and is the Board President of Amazon Frontlines, an organization protecting biodiversity and upholding Indigenous land rights in the Ecuadorian Amazon.

Joining the Rainforest Action Network

Cassady joined RAN as the Program Director in 2009. She built a diverse international team leading strategic global campaigns on forest conservation, philanthropic finance, and protecting human rights.

She was at the forefront of some of RAN’s most significant achievements, including the largest legal victory against an oil company in history when Chevron was found liable for polluting the Amazon. Under her direction, she led her team to push some of the world’s largest banks, commodity traders, producers, and consumer goods companies to change their policies and deforestation practices in Indonesia.

Image credit: Courtesy of Rainforest Action Network

Taking on fossil fuel money

In February 2020, the Board of Directors selected Cassady to become the Executive Director at RAN. A demanding year with the Covid-19 pandemic and worldwide social distress, her experience at the intersection of ecological and human rights was the perfect fit.

A key component of RAN’s programs is “Keep Forests Standing.” Cassady aims to continue this mission by targeting some of the most influential multinational brands and banks, pouring billions of dollars into the industries responsible for driving deforestation and committing human rights abuses. She aims to “make doing business with those companies untenable.”

To further fight those contributing to the climate crisis, Cassady launched an ambitious campaign to pressure Wall Street’s biggest bank, Chase, to stop giving money to fossil fuel industries, naming the bank  “the world’s worst funder of climate change.” Now scaled to a mass movement, thousands have taken action at Chase branches across the country, and millions have learned about the destructive companies they fund.

Giving a voice to all

Throughout her influential career, Cassady has challenged corporations, big money, and the status quo in the name of the planet. She has empowered Indigenous, women, and youth voices, giving them a seat at the table of leadership.

If she’s not defending nature, one can find her spending time in it, paddling around her house, snowboarding, or surfing. “It’s such a privilege to have a job that allows me to protect this beautiful world that I love so much.”

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