Each year, SLO Climate Coalition honors a local individual whose work has impacted climate solutions. The distinguished honor of Climate Champion is bestowed upon an individual who has gone over-and-above in their contribution to creating a vibrant, just, and climate-resilient Central Coast.
2022: Jill ZamEk
Jill ZamEk was honored as the 2022 Climate Champion at its 2023 Kick-Off Celebration on January 19. She received this award from the Coalition and recognition from Senator Laird for going “above and beyond” in her commitment to the Coalition’s vision, mission, and values.
Jill joined the Coalition in 2019 and joined the Leadership Team shortly after. She has worked behind-the-scenes in communications and outreach for all programs. She is also involved in the Coalition’s program, Uniting the Central Coast for Action, which collaborates with individuals and environmental organizations in the five counties served by Central Coast Community Energy.
Jill has devoted her adult life to the education of young people and to the preservation of our planet for future generations. Until her recent retirement, she worked as an elementary school teacher – the last 20 years of her career at Oceano School.
In addition to her volunteer work with the SLO Climate Coalition, Jill is on the Board of Directors of San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace, a watchdog group for Diablo Canyon nuclear plant. She has been an active member in that organization since 1980. Jill is also a member of a national organization – the National Radioactive Waste Coalition – which is committed to the safe and just storage of nuclear waste.
Jill greatly values the beauty of our Earth and thus enjoys her travels, gardening, and hiking. Her children, grandchildren, and her appreciation for all living beings provide Jill with the stamina to persist in her work as a ‘guardian of the future’.
2021: SLO Climate Coalition chose an “Electrifying Power Couple” – Janine Kennel Rands and Barry Rands.
Transportation and waste are two of the largest challenges in decarbonization. Barry and Janine Rands truly exemplify climate champions by their consistent and tireless work over many years in their areas of expertise: Electric Vehicles and Zero Waste.
Barry Rands is one of the original members of the SLO Climate Coalition and leads its Green Transportation Team. He has worked with SLO City on an Electric Mobility Roadmap, placement and functionality of chargers, and cycling infrastructure.
Barry has been the lead organizer of National Drive Electric Week events in San Luis Obispo for the past four years. In the early days of the pandemic in 2020, Barry produced a series of virtual events. This past year, Drive Electric Week included both virtual and in-person events. There was a series of bilingual webinars, a SLO Farmers Market Electric Vehicle (EV) Showcase, and a Ride & Drive EV event at Madonna Inn. Barry works closely with national, regional and local partners, bringing in sponsors and grants to make these events free to the public. He arranges for the speakers and orchestrates publicity.
Barry is an EV mentor, assisting those interested in buying an EV, keeps up to date on the various incentives and rebates available, and guides buyers through the process.
Barry has driven electric vehicles for eight years. He is also an avid cyclist and Board member of the SLO Bike Club.
Janine Kennel Rands is a staunch advocate for zero waste and has been key to changing our local plastic policies. She promotes regulations to limit single-use disposables and polystyrene at city, county, and state levels. When an ordinance comes up for public discussion, Janine is able to generate a roomful of people – and/or numerous emails – to provide public comment. When ordinances are passed, her work is not over. She spreads the word to businesses and follows up to assure compliance.
Janine has been successful at reducing the sale of single-use commodities, but she also works to reduce the demand for these items. Janine started “Tableware Share – Lend A Dish” service in 2018 which provides washable plates, glassware, cutlery, and linens for group events. The host thus avoids the expense and waste of throw-away tableware.
Another of Janine’s passions is assisting people with the set-up of composting worm farms. Personal kitchen waste creates organic fertilizer.
Janine is a Santa Lucia Chapter Sierra Club Board member and serves as the zero waste liaison. She is also a member of the SLO Bike Club and SLO Skiers, helping to make events zero waste. In 2019, she was given the Environment Award by the Far West Ski Association for her zero waste advocacy in club activities and at the ski resorts.
Janine and Barry are avid naturalists who think and act consistently in conscious awareness of their carbon footprint. This electrifying couple deserves this award for their years of effective activism in our corner of the world!
2020: Quinn Brady
Quinn Brady was honored with this award because of her dedicated work for climate and equity. She is a community organizer, coalition builder, and advocate – lifting up people, policies, and progress.
Ms. Brady has spent the last 15 years working across a spectrum of grassroots projects, non-profit organizations, and political campaigns focused on social justice, immigration, climate action, community connection, and electing bold leaders.
Her climate advocacy work has included coalition building with community members, organizations and stakeholders – advocating for high impact climate policy locally and statewide. She was a co-organizer of the 2019 local event for the global climate strike. She collaborated on racial justice advocacy and direct action, is a founding board member of the SLO County Progressives and an elected delegate to the CA Democratic Party. Quinn is a founding member of SLO County Undocusupport, a coalition group that formed in April 2020 which has raised and distributed direct aid to immigrant families in SLO County through COVID19.
Quinn believes that, “We can work hard for change, but an essential component is electing bold climate leaders to local office who have the political will to make the tough decisions to lead us forward.” To that end, she has volunteered, consulted, managed, and coordinated campaigns and policy efforts for the last four years to ensure strong leadership locally.
Quinn is a proud mother of three children who inspire and motivate her work.
2019: Mike Horgan
Mike Horgan moved from the Boston area to the Central Coast fairly recently, where he has since made a distinctive mark in the region’s climate leadership movement. Mike is an active member of the SLO Climate Coalition, within which he co-leads the Building Decarbonization Action Team, working towards implementing zero-carbon design and construction of businesses and homes within SLO City and across the Central Coast.
Mike is a licensed builder in both California and Massachusetts and a Certified Passive House Consultant. He founded and operates his own design-build firm, Horgan Design-Build, specializing in energy-efficient and zero-energy new construction and deep renovations. Since moving to the Central Coast, Mike continues to build homes for clients, and also consults and teaches efficient building practices. Mike has earned the respect of the local builder community, bridging the gap between what we know in building science with the practicality of construction. He has unwavering confidence supported by years of experience that we can build better buildings that are healthier, safer, more affordable, and carbon-free.
Mike is the model of a Climate Champion in that he is dedicated, conducts himself professionally, is generous with both his time and expertise, and is always willing to lend a hand in whatever capacity is required.
2018: June Cochran
June Cochran is a native Californian. June earned her undergraduate degree at U.C. Berkeley, where she learned how to protest injustices; she received her Masters degree at Occidental in Urban Studies. June worked as a reporter, a high school teacher, a college instructor, and then an Instructional Specialist training teachers for Stockton Unified School District.
June possesses a deep desire to educate herself and others on resiliency and equity issues. She started and advised a high school club titled E.N.U.F. (Earth Needs Us Fast), organized a Green Shalom action group at a synagogue, produced a number of informative video programs for the media, and became an integral contributor in key groups engaged in a positive movement toward a solution-based future.
As coordinator of the San Luis Obispo Climate Coalition, June’s mission is to increase awareness of the advantages of decarbonization in order to strengthen our energy profile and our local economy, give residents the power to put their talents to work, and prepare our community for unexpected events.
June’s emphasis is on raising public awareness, organizing educational events, and networking. She also volunteers as a national responder for the American Red Cross and has helped install solar through Grid Alternatives, including two all-female installations. June and her husband, Fred Fink, live in Shell Beach and do this work primarily for her daughter and son who both work in the field of public health, a daughter-in-law who is a high school counselor, a son-in-law who is an engineer, and four grandsons — two in California and two in New York – and for their descendants, as well as all future individuals and families.
June is committed to creating a vibrant, just, and sustainable world for ALL people for generations to come.
The Climate Champion Award is handcrafted by Ken Frye and Kerry Long. Each year’s award is a little different and always beautiful.