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Meet the 2020 Class of Echoing Green Fellows

Members of the 2020 class are tackling pressing global issues including systemic racism, educational inequities, unemployment, air pollution, and mental health care.

The 2020 Echoing Green Fellows come from across the globe, working in seven different countries and territories (India, Ghana, Kenya, Zambia, Nigeria, Puerto Rico, and the United States) and U.S. cities including Dallas, Chicago, Little Rock, and New York City. Echoing Green selected the 13 talented winners from a pool of 3,134 applicants working in 161 countries after a 10-month vetting process.

As the world engages with this momentous year, our community is ready to face the work ahead of us. Sustaining the impact of social entrepreneurs close to the issues they are addressing through their work is critical for dismantling inequity. We are proud to announce these 13 Fellows who each hold the moral imagination to envision and shape a future that is equitable and just.

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Jocelyne Agbo Echoing Green

Jocelyne Agbo

Jocelyne Agbo is the founder of Farm On Wheels, a social enterprise that works with smallholder rural farmers in hard-to-reach communities. Jocelyne is a gender-focused social entrepreneur with a passion for low-income families. A computer science graduate, she also studied business and entrepreneurship at the University of Wisconsin–Stout as a Mandela Washington Fellow. Jocelyne is a D-Prize award winner and a Global Social Benefit Institute (GSBI) alumni. Growing up in a family of smallholder farmers, Jocelyne understands firsthand their challenges and the mindset of “farming is for the poor,” and thus she has moved to solve these challenges by working tirelessly to better the lives of smallholder rural farmers earning less than a dollar a day.

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About Farm on Wheels

Farm On Wheels enables smallholder rural farmers to improve food security and way of life at the family level first, with the deeper mission of providing a better life for rural women and youth to reduce poverty in hard-to-reach rural communities. Farm On Wheels provides direct access to quality farm inputs, training, extension services, input credit, and market linkage, enabling farmers to increase their production capacity, yield, and income. Over the long term, Farm On Wheels is committed to improving the lives of smallholder rural farmers, preserving the environment, and contributing to food security.


 

Samlara Baah headshot

Samlara Baah

Samlara Baah is the founder and CEO of Loo Works, an organization using plastic waste to create sanitation solutions for marginalized communities in West Africa. Samlara has a vision of creating pathways and resources for Africa. She aims to be remembered as someone who added a new dimension to all the good Africa has to offer. Samlara has focused on advocacy, community sensitization, and developing solutions for the communities she serves. She has worked on environmental solutions with organizations like the World Bank, the United Nations Development Programme, Oxfam, and the Dutch government, among others. Upon moving back to Ghana, it didn’t take long for Samlara to realize the sanitation crisis the country was experiencing. She took the lead to find a solution that could serve the masses. Samlara is a Harvard Mason Fellow and an Adrian Cheng Fellow. She has an MBA from Georgia Institute of Technology and an MPA from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.

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About Loo Works Limited

In West Africa, most of the population does not have access to a household toilet. This major sanitation deficit leads to children dying each day of preventable diseases caused by poor sanitation. Loo Works manufactures toilet systems composed of a container-based toilet attached to a biological digester, giving households a hygienic, low-cost toilet system that does not need to be emptied regularly. Loo Works’ toilet systems save lives while using recycled plastics and sawdust, otherwise known as wood plastic composite. This process upcycles the thousands of tons of plastic waste generated in-country each day.


 

Shanté Elliott headshot

Shanté Elliot

Shanté Elliott, the founder and CEO of TasselTurn, grew up in Fayetteville, North Carolina, and at age 13 received a forever family through adoption. After graduating college, she fledged a career in college access and education policy for the University of North Carolina system, where she was responsible for helping first-generation students access and matriculate college through federal TRIO programs, which target students from disadvantaged backgrounds. Upon moving to Chicago, her work in child welfare began with the nonprofit Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Cook County. As director of engagement, she was responsible for forming external partnerships and recruiting and training volunteers to advocate for children in foster care in court. Shanté holds dual baccalaureate degrees and a master’s in education policy from Loyola University Chicago, and she is completing doctoral work at Northwestern University. In 2019, Shanté was named a Forbes Changemaker and was recognized as a L’Oréal Paris Women of Worth Honoree.

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About TasselTurn

TasselTurn seeks to ensure that housing-insecure and foster-involved high school students graduate connected to college, careers, and community. TasselTurn’s social platform connects students to personal education coaching, college and career matching, and training to build non-adaptive skills. Through partnerships with schools, corporations, and child welfare, TasselTurn is closing the achievement gap and creating pathways out of poverty for the nation’s most vulnerable students.


 

Xavier Henderson Echoing Green

Xavier Henderson

Xavier Henderson is the co-founder of For Oak Cliff, which works to increase access to resources and opportunity in his home neighborhood of South Oak Cliff, located in Dallas. Previously, Xavier worked for Teach For America, teaching sixth grade at a school located on the same street where he grew up in South Oak Cliff. He was drawn to teaching because of his personal experience with limited resources as a Dallas public school student. While teaching, Xavier witnessed the many barriers families faced in meeting their needs and accessing adult educational opportunities, inspiring him to found For Oak Cliff. He works to ensure resources are accessible to the predominantly Black neighborhood he grew up in and calls home. He received a master’s in education from Southern Methodist University’s Simmons School of Education and Human Development. He has been featured in Teach For America and local Dallas publications for his work addressing the importance of equitable access to education, as well as resources for neglected communities like the ones where he has lived, taught, and organized.

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About For Oak Cliff

For Oak Cliff (FOC) works to liberate South Oak Cliff from systemic oppression by building a culture of education to increase social mobility and social capital. FOC’s programs focus on education, advocacy, and community building. Through these three pillars, FOC has successfully removed some of the barriers that exist for those living in an oppressed condition. FOC provides GED classes, access to mental and physical health treatment, an annual community festival, and opportunities for artistic expression. By committing to its mission, FOC will be the catalyst to heal its neighbors and inspire others to believe that liberation starts within.


 

John Johnson Echoing Green

John Johnson

John Johnson is the co-founder of the Inner City Green Team. A diehard environmentalist and social justice advocate, John came to this work as a recycling coordinator at GrowNYC, where he has been working for over 10 years to improve recycling rates in NYC. While at GrowNYC, he was selected as an Emerging Leader by the Bank of America and participated in its Neighborhood Builders Leadership Training Program. This highly competitive program is designed to recognize and reward nonprofit organizations and individuals who are achieving excellence in their community-building efforts. John’s passion and desire to protect the planet and some of its most vulnerable citizens has led him and his partner on this journey to create ICGT. In 2018, they launched their pilot project, having won the NYCx Co-Lab Challenge: Zero Waste in Shared Space. This was an international competition seeking solutions that would improve recycling in NYC public housing. John studied urban studies at Macalester College, and urban policy analysis and management at the New School for Social Research.

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About Inner City Green Team

The Inner City Green Team is creating a sustainable, scalable, and replicable recycling infrastructure at New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) with job creation and environmental protection at its core. Its unique service-based approach provides residents an accessible and engaging experience with recycling. It ties together resident education, convenience in the form of a door-to-door pickup service for recyclables, and rewards to effect behavior change. Its program will assist over 400,000 residents in diverting their recyclables from landfills, saving taxpayer dollars and providing paid work that can lead to a lifetime of employment and civic engagement for NYCHA residents.


 

Lorenzo Lewis headshot

Lorenzo Lewis

Lorenzo Lewis is a social entrepreneur, professional speaker, and founder of The Confess Project, an initiative that centers on mental health and wellness for young men of color. Born in jail to an incarcerated mother, Lorenzo struggled with depression, anxiety, and anger throughout his youth. At 17, after almost reentering the system of mass incarceration he had come from, he began his journey to wellness. In addition to being part of the 2020 cohort for the Rodenberry Fellowship, in 2019 Lorenzo received the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Multicultural Outreach Award and the American Psychiatric Association Award for Advancing Minority Mental Health, and he was a finalist for the Little Rock Regional Chamber Small Business Owner 30 & Under of the Year Award. His work has been widely shared by Roc Nation, Nick Cannon, Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation, Watch The Yard, and more. Overcoming all of his challenges, Lorenzo earned both a bachelor’s and master’s degree and is now an adjunct professor at Arkansas Baptist College.

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About The Confess Project

The Confess Project is a national grassroots movement centered on young men of color to achieve positive mental health and emotional well-being. It trains Black barbers, mental health professionals, community leaders, and law enforcement officials and provides technical assistance to organizations to increase successful life outcomes for young men of color. The Confess Project’s vision on a micro level is to increase trust and build healthy communities. On a macro level, they aim to decrease the school-to-prison pipeline, increase access to mental health services, and improve academic and employment outcomes for young men of color across the United States.


 

Charlot Magayi Echoing Green

Charlot Magayi

Charlot Magayi is the founder and CEO of Mukuru Clean Stoves. Orphaned at the age of 10, Charlot grew up in Mukuru, one of the biggest slums in Nairobi, and became a mother at age 16. When her two-year-old daughter suffered a severe burn injury caused by a traditional stove, Charlot was moved to provide safer cooking technologies for her community. She founded Mukuru Clean Stoves to help mothers keep their children safe, save on fuel consumption, and reduce household air pollution. She has been recognized and awarded for her fight against household air pollution and global poverty and her work to empower marginalized women in western Kenya. She won the Waislitz Global Citizen Award in 2019, The World Bank’s inaugural SDGs and Her Award in 2018, and the AWIEF Empowerment Award in 2019. Charlot believes in a toxin- and smoke-free world and has dedicated her time, skills, and experience to fighting household air pollution.

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About Mukuru Clean Stoves

Mukuru Clean Stoves (MCS) designs, manufactures, and distributes improved, efficient, and reliable cookstoves. MCS makes its stoves with locally sourced recycled metal and distributes them through networks of local women business owners and microfinance institutions. MCS’s vision is to significantly reduce household air pollution in underserved markets in Africa.


 

Muzalema Mwanza Echoing Green

Muzalema Mwanza

Muzalema Mwanza is the co-founder of Safe Motherhood Alliance, an organization established after her own personal experience during childbirth, to advance safe births in underserved communities. A social entrepreneur, civil engineer, and health advocate, Muzalema is removing anxiety from the birth process by rebuilding trust between communities and clinics. She works to ensure that mothers do not compromise their own safety and that of their newborns in under-resourced clinics as well as during home births that may be far from a safe health facility. In this context, Muzalema trains birth attendants to improve the quality of care and safety in both clinic and home births across Zambia. She is a Mandela Washington Fellow, an Obama Leaders: Africa Fellow, an Africa Prize Finalist, and an Ashoka Fellow. She was a winner of the Mandela Washington Fellowship at the University of San Diego, California; a NEPAD Bioentrepreneurs winner in South Africa; a Slush Global Impact Accelerator winner in Finland; and a YHER Africa Accelerator winner, and she has been featured on the BBC.

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About Safe Motherhood Alliance

Safe Motherhood Alliance develops and distributes innovative, climate-smart healthcare products that meet the unique needs of pregnant women living in low-resource settings and rural areas. Safe births in Sub-Saharan Africa are a challenge, and the Safe Motherhood Alliance understands that anxiety over childbirth can often lead to using unsafe practices. Its work focuses on removing anxiety from the birth process and rebuilding trust between communities and clinics. Safe Motherhood Alliance’s vision is to advance women’s access to healthcare by engaging spheres of influence that affect their choices, so they can deliver a healthier and wealthier world, passed on for generations.


 

Christine Nieves Echoing Green

Christine Nieves

Christine Nieves is the co-founder and executive director of Emerge Puerto Rico, an initiative focused on establishing cutting-edge climate change leadership and education in community wisdom. She has an interest in Indigenous and African wisdom and in how the invisible infrastructure of so-called marginalized communities can be activated when disasters happen. Christine’s attention is focused on human consciousness, cognition, evolution, and adaptation to extreme environmental disruptions. She became a 2019 Bridge Fellow at TNTP to learn how the education field can be a game-changer to systemically nurture human compassion, ingenuity, and adaptability. Previously, she co-founded Proyecto Apoyo Mutuo Mariana, a mutual-aid disaster relief effort in which those directly impacted were the same people serving. PAM’s mission was to transform the community of Mariana into a transgenerational catalytic sustainable village by developing and practicing community-level hurricane preparedness plans and building social and physical infrastructure to withstand uncertainty and future natural disasters. Christine was named a 2019 Grist Fixer and an SBA Phoenix Humanitarian Award recipient (alongside her husband, Luis), and was invited to speak at TEDMED.

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About Emerge Puerto Rico

Emerge Puerto Rico is a first-of-its-kind community-based enterprise focused on climate change education and leadership. Through studying human greatness and pitfalls at moments of great peril, like disasters, EmergePR works to scale the patterns of cognition and behavior that are aligned with a new reality to bring about a post-climate change humanity. It will achieve this by curating, elevating, and spreading the stories of real people leading real community efforts that defy the current narrative, and inserting those stories into local schools and communities. Through train-the-trainer programs, youth will learn the mindset, tools, and skills exhibited in those stories.


 

Shriti Pandey Echoing Green

Shriti Pandey

Shriti Pandey is founder of STRAWCTURE ECO, the first company in India to make homes and schools using bio-composite panels. Her initiative stops crop stubble burning, which is the leading cause of air pollution in northern India and amounts to estimated losses of $30 billion annually. She moved back to India in October 2016 to live for a year in a tribal village to better understand the plight of low-income communities and design-build homes that address their concerns, aspirations, and problems. After her fellowship, she went to Eastern Europe to learn from companies that were already by then researching and commercializing building materials using agricultural residue, and she started STRAWCTURE ECO in 2018 to build spaces in India that are more affordable, accessible, and sustainable for all. She is a TedX Speaker, a 22nd Youth Assembly Social Impact Challenge Award Winner in 2018, and an Acumen 2020 Fellow. She has a master’s in construction management from New York University and a B.Tech in civil engineering.

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About STRAWCTURE ECO

STRAWCTURE ECO is tackling the global housing crisis. It reduces the cost of construction and time to build by using bio-composite panels made of crop residue, of which more than 20 million tons are burned annually on farms in India. The combination of modular construction and alternative cost-effective material makes housing more accessible. The agri-waste applied in circular economy manufacturing provides 10 percent additional income to farmers. STRAWCTURE ECO’s goal is to make a replicable business model that will substitute 30 percent of global building material with bio-composites.


 

Taylor Toynes headshot

Taylor Toynes

Taylor Toynes is the co-founder and executive director of For Oak Cliff, which he started with students as a first-year teacher. Discouraged by the disparities and inequities his students experienced, and noting that nothing had changed since his childhood, Taylor was compelled to organize the inaugural FOC Back to School Festival for his students and community. The festival drew attention to the needs of the community and led to collaborations with system leaders such as United Way of Metropolitan Dallas. Taylor is committed to the Oak Cliff community and lives in the neighborhood with his family. For his leadership, Taylor has received awards from the United Nations, the NAACP, and Southern Methodist University (SMU), to name a few. Taylor and the FOC team won Teach For America’s Social Innovation Award and have been recognized by national news outlets. Taylor is a graduate of University of North Texas and has a master’s degree from SMU.

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About For Oak Cliff

For Oak Cliff (FOC) works to liberate South Oak Cliff from systemic oppression by building a culture of education to increase social mobility and social capital. FOC’s programs focus on education, advocacy, and community building. Through these three pillars, FOC has successfully removed some of the barriers that exist for those living in an oppressed condition. FOC provides GED classes, access to mental and physical health treatment, an annual community festival, and opportunities for artistic expression. By committing to its mission, FOC will be the catalyst to heal its neighbors and inspire others to believe that liberation starts within.


 

Ruchi Varma headshot

Ruchi Varma

Ruchi Varma is the founder and chief executive officer of HumanQind, a social design enterprise building equitable, kind, and compassionate cities. Ruchi, an architect and urban designer by training, adopts a human-centered approach in her work. She is passionate about cities and public spaces and closely observes how the latter influences the way we function and grow. Ruchi has worked extensively in the road safety and urban development sector with government and nongovernmental agencies. She is associated with the Transportation Research and Injury Prevention Programme at IIT Delhi, and she also volunteers to help schoolchildren as a Mentor of Change with the Atal Innovation Mission. For her vision of equity and happiness, Ruchi has been selected as an SSE India Fellow (2019), a Dalai Lama Fellow (2018), and a LEAD India Fellow (2017). Ruchi won the global honor award for her project “Crosswalk—250 Meters of Happiness” at the World Urban Forum 2020 in Abu Dhabi. A flaneur at heart, she loves traveling, exploring cities, public spaces, and their everyday life.

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About HumanQind

HumanQind seeks to make cities safe and kind by giving children visibility, a voice, and an agency to drive change. Its mission is to mainstream their needs and build trust, safety, and a shared purpose in their communities in which they reside. HumanQind offers a “crosswalk” curriculum, which is a set of nine design thinking workshops where children express, reimagine, and develop an action plan for access to their school. Young leaders further build momentum, unify urban stakeholders, and influence the government to implement change. HumanQind aspires to build a movement where children are considered not invisible or small, but equal.


 

Brigitte Vicenty Echoing Green

Brigitte Vicenty

Brigitte Vicenty, a lifelong New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) resident, is the founder of the Inner City Green Team. She has led the fight for herself and fellow residents in their “Right to Recycle” for a decade. She created ICGT when she learned that NYCHA’s recycling program was nonexistent and there were no other options. She envisioned a convenient way for residents to recycle that could create jobs in communities with some of the highest unemployment rates. As a teen, Brigitte observed her mother’s passion for caring about her community and witnessed the effects it had on others. Brigitte hoped to serve in a cause that would be impactful beyond where she grew up. With her passion for the environment and appreciation for its life-giving power, Brigitte wants others to join her “green ministry.” In 2018, she won the NYCx Co-Lab Challenge and was honored at the Zero Waste in Shared Space Recognition Ceremony. The project was recently featured on New York’s PIX11 and News12 as well as by Politico.

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About Inner City Green Team

The Inner City Green Team is creating a sustainable, scalable, and replicable recycling infrastructure at New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) with job creation and environmental protection at its core. Its unique service-based approach provides residents an accessible and engaging experience with recycling. It ties together resident education, convenience in the form of a door-to-door pickup service for recyclables, and rewards to effect behavior change. Its program will assist over 400,000 residents in diverting their recyclables from landfills, saving taxpayer dollars and providing paid work that can lead to a lifetime of employment and civic engagement for NYCHA residents.

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