Building A Sustainable Climate Future in Inland CA

Governor Gavin Newsom and his administration have taken significant steps to put California on the path towards a greener, more sustainable climate future. So far, Governor Newsom has pledged to conserve 30 percent of the state's land and coastal water by 2030, announced a phase-out of gasoline-powered vehicles by 2035, and proposed a comprehensive job and climate action plan. The state is enacting bold strategies to combat climate change, all while seeking to reduce the state's carbon footprint and bolster long-term economic growth. In September 2020, the Governor also directed the Office of Planning and Research to partner with the Labor and Workforce Development Agency to design and deliver the state's first  Hight Road Transition Roadmap by July 2021.

In order to turn this vision into reality, the state recognizes that these solutions will be hard-fought, center racial equity at their core, and actively bring all partners to the table, including philanthropy, nonprofits, civil society, corporations, and other stakeholders. Regional equity is another imperative: climate change disproportionately impacts the state's most vulnerable regions, including inland California. State government and philanthropy must make intentional investments to support the sustainability of inland California's climate and economy and ensure inland California is a central component of the state's vision to achieve a High Road Transition.

As the state looks to build a sustainable climate future in 2021 and beyond, both government and philanthropy must continue to explore new, innovative ways to collaborate and ensure community voices and needs are central in every conversation.

Join us for the second installment of the Inland California Webinar Series to:

  • Learn more about the state's comprehensive jobs and climate action plan for 2030, additional opportunities under the new Biden Administration, and how philanthropy fits into this vision.
  • Consider how the state and philanthropy can make strategic investments to better address current and future climate challenges.
  • Hear from inland funders on the roles they have played in helping to implement sustainable climate policy from the state and where additional support is needed.
  • Discuss the public-private partnership opportunities available to help promote an inclusive "High Road Transition" in inland California.
  • Elevate local leaders and community organizations' voices better to understand climate change's real-world impact in inland California.


Kathleen Kelly Janus
Senior Advisor on Social Innovation in the Office of Governor Newsom

Kathleen Kelly Janus is the Senior Advisor on Social Innovation to Governor Gavin Newsom. As a social entrepreneur, author and lecturer at Stanford University’s Program on Social Entrepreneurship, she is an expert on philanthropy, millennial engagement and scaling early stage organizations. Her work has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Huffington Post, Fast Company, Quartz, Chronicle of Philanthropy, Stanford Social Innovation Review, Tech Crunch and the San Francisco Chronicle. Her book – Social Startup Success: How the Best Nonprofits Launch, Scale Up and Make a Difference – is a playbook for nonprofit organizations based on a five-year research project interviewing hundreds of top-performing social innovators.

An attorney, Kathleen has spearheaded numerous social justice initiatives. Kathleen is a co-founder of Spark – a network of over 10,000 millennial donors – which seeks to advance gender equality by engaging the next generation in accessible forms of philanthropy. As a teaching fellow at Stanford Law School, Kathleen helped launch and direct Stanford Law School’s international human rights clinics in Namibia and South Africa. She has also served as pro bono counsel at Covington and Burling and a litigation associate at Thelen Reid & Priest.

A graduate of Berkeley Law School, Kathleen also graduated with highest honors from U.C. Berkeley. She lives in San Francisco with her husband Ted. Kathleen is a certified yoga instructor, which comes in handy when juggling their three young children.


Kate Gordon 
Director, State of California Governor’s Office of Planning and Research

Kate Gordon has spent the past two decades working at the intersection of climate change, energy policy, and economic development. Gordon was appointed Director of the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research and Senior Advisor to the Governor on Climate by Governor Gavin Newsom on January 7, 2019. Trained as a community organizer, and later in law and regional economic development, her focus has long been on bringing diverse groups together to work toward a more sustainable, inclusive economy. Prior to being appointed OPR Director, Gordon was the founding director of the Risky Business Project, which focused on quantifying the economic impacts of climate change on U.S. energy demand, crop yields, and coastal infrastructure as well as on human health and mortality. As part of this work, Gordon consulted numerous investors and corporations on strategies to reduce climate risks across investments and assets, and also served as a co-author on the Fourth National Climate Assessment's chapter on “Reducing Risks Through Adaptation Actions.”

Prior to her work on Risky Business, Gordon served in senior leadership positions at several nonpartisan think tanks including the Henry M. Paulson Institute, the Center for the Next Generation, the Center for American Progress, and as a nonresident Fellow at the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University. Gordon got her start on energy and climate issues working to craft progressive policies at the intersection of labor, business, community, and environmental interests at the national Apollo Alliance, where she ultimately served as co-Executive Director until the merger with the Blue-Green Alliance in 2011. Under her leadership, the Apollo Alliance drafted key parts of the American Recovery And Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) including the Advanced Manufacturing Tax Credit and a competitive grant program for green jobs training, and also partnered with the AFL-CIO to draft the "High Road Transition" portions of the proposed American Clean Energy and Security Act (aka the "Waxman-Markey bill").

Gordon earned a J.D. and a Masters in City and Regional Planning from the University of California-Berkeley, and an undergraduate degree from Wesleyan University. Along with her role in state government, Gordon regularly co-teaches a course at Stanford Law School entitled "Climate: Politics, Finance, and Infrastructure."

Kristen A. Beall Watson, Ed.D.
President and CEO, Kern Community Foundation

Kristen Beall is President and CEO of Kern Community Foundation, and President of Kern Real Estate Foundation. She has over 30 years of leadership experience in a unique combination of public and private accounting, education and philanthropy. Kristen holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, a master’s degree in education from Point Loma Nazarene University, a clear California teaching credential and a doctorate in educational leadership at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Kristen has spent a large portion of her adult life involved in Kern County philanthropy, serving as president of the Lori Brock Children’s Museum, treasurer of the Junior League of Bakersfield, board member for the Girl Scouts, Joshua Tree Council, steering committee member for the Bakersfield Women’s Business Conference and American Cancer Society’s Oktoberfest, founding member of the Women’s and Girls’ Fund of Kern County Vision Committee and advisor to students in the Jim Burke Education Foundation Dreambuilder program. Kristen currently serves as a Trustee for California Health Science University and board member for Greater Bakersfield Chamber of Commerce, Valley PBS and Southern Sierra Council Boy Scouts of America.

While originally from Southern California, Kristen has proudly called Kern County her home for over 30 years. She has two adult children, Taylor and Morgan.

Sheheryar Y. Kaoosji
Executive Director, Warehouse Worker Resource Center (IE)

Sheheryar Kaoosji, Founding Co-Executive Director, has been leading the research and organizing in the warehouse industry of the Inland Valley since 2008. Sheheryar leads the research and policy analysis for the organization, as well as the WWRC's civic engagement and community organizing programs. He has over two decades of experience engaged in research in support of organizing in California. He holds a Masters degree in Public Policy from UCLA and a BA from UC Santa Cruz.

Norma Rojas-Mora
Director of Communications and Community Relations, Bakersfield College

Norma Rojas-Mora is the Director of Communication and Community Relations for Bakersfield College, where she oversees the Marketing and Community Relations department serving over 33,000 students and the greater community. She is responsible for all communication efforts, both internally and externally, including media relations and community partnerships.

With over 23 years of professional experience in managing complex programs within the housing, social services and educational sectors, Norma is an effective leader in creating strategic alliances with a diverse range of organizations and industries. Her work is meaningful and focused on supporting her community while also advancing the mission, core values, and priorities of Bakersfield College. Since joining the college in 2019, Norma has led and developed a multi-county collaborative known as the Rural HEAL Initiative which is focused on raising public health awareness, rural wellness, and health equity for the central valley. Norma has also been leading the High Roads Training Partnership Coalition, recently awarded nearly $2 Million, that will result in a Kern County Strategic Workforce Development Plan. The workforce development plan will support Kern’s transformative economic development by ensuring a skilled and trained workforce to fill current and future jobs. The bottom-up planning process will develop a stronger, healthier, and more economically resilient community by focusing efforts on education, equity, and workforce development.

In addition to her professional-community based work, Norma serves on multiple community boards, including the Workforce Investment Board of Kern, Inyo and Mono Counties, Latina Leaders of Kern County, the Women and Girls’ Fund Advisory Board, and the Bakersfield Women’s Business Conference. She holds a Master's degree in Administration from California State University, Bakersfield, a Bachelor's degree in Sociology from UCLA, and numerous leadership certifications.

Dina Walker
President & CEO, BLU Educational Foundation (IE)

Dina Walker, President/CEO of BLU Educational Foundation, has over 15 years of experience working with non-profit and governmental agencies in various capacities from developing and managing programs and services to convening groups around issues impacting a variety of populations. She has extensive experience serving communities of color, at-risk youth and parents of underserved populations. Her tenure has brought about partnerships with schools, colleges and universities to increase the access to higher education. Relative to this work, she designed the College Exodus Project, a collaborative initiative helping students in Inland Empire high schools gain admission and financial aid to four-year public and private universities throughout the country. 

She has held leadership roles in agencies such as Leadership Excellence, a multifaceted non-profit agency serving San Diego’s inner-city youth; DC-College Access Program, a private effort to increase the college matriculation rates of students in the underserved communities of the nation’s capital; and was a driving force in the creation of Hardy Brown College Prep, one of the Inland Empire’s highest-performing public schools.

Ms. Walker has raised over $1 million dollars in grant funding to support local schools and has provided over a half-million dollars in scholarships to local high school students. She says her greatest accomplishments have been personally helping students realize their dream of attending and graduating from college.
Ms. Walker was recognized as a Woman of Vision and Leadership by the California 62nd Assembly District as one of the many awards she has received for her community leadership, public service and educational advocacy. She is a member of the San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools- Alliance for Education; and currently serves on the San Bernardino City Unified School District African American Task Force and on the Multilingual Initiative Stakeholders group.

Sarah L. White
Senior Advisor, Jobs & The Economy, Office of Planning and Research

Sarah L. White is Senior Advisor for Jobs and the Economy at OPR, where she leads state efforts to map an equitable high road transition to carbon neutrality. She works at the intersection of labor, workforce, and climate policy across OPR concerns. White served in the Brown Administration as the inaugural Director for Equity, Climate and Jobs at the California Workforce Development Board, where she designed the High Road Training Partnership Initiative and the equity + job quality agenda that now anchor the state’s jobs and climate vision. Before heading west, White spent a decade at COWS — a national policy center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison — working on economic inequality, decarbonization, and social change. A national expert on jobs and training in the low-carbon economy, she holds a Ph.D. from Columbia University and a B.A. from Wellesley College.


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Who May Attend
Current SCG, NCG, Catalyst and EFG members only

SCG NCG & Catalyst members: Register online (you must log in to your SCG account to register).
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Accommodations for People with Disabilities
If you have a disability and require accommodation in order to fully participate in this activity, please contact our programs team at or (213) 680-8866. You will be contacted by someone from our staff to discuss your specific needs.



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