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A Note From Our Chapter Chair
A New Era for Sierra Club

Susan Eastwood

April 2023

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Happy Earth Day! I hope we’ll see you at one of the many Earth Day events where Sierra Club Connecticut will be tabling this month!

By now you have heard the exciting news that Sierra Club has a new executive director, Ben Jealous, who started in late February, after a month-long listening tour of 19 Sierra Club Chapters in more than 10 states. After this time of “listening deeply” to Chapter members around the country, Ben begins his leadership with a true understanding of where we are and where we need to go.

Ben seems like a perfect choice for the new directions we are taking in our club. He is an experienced civil rights leader, community organizer, coalition builder, and social justice activist. Ben graduated from Columbia University and earned a master’s degree from Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar. He was the 2018 Democratic nominee for governor of Maryland. And so much more, as seen here:

“Ben's passion for the outdoors and commitment to fighting for the environment, and his work leading People for the American Way and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) -- two of the nation's most influential groups pursuing equity and justice and protecting democracy -- makes him uniquely qualified to lead the Sierra Club at these intersections as our journey continues to create a healthy and sustainable planet for all.” — Ramon Cruz, President of the Sierra Club

Here are a few words from Ben’s Campfire statement, Excited and Grateful to Join the Sierra Club Team

“I'm filled with gratitude and appreciation for all we do to build, maintain and grow the largest, most impactful organization in the environmentalist movement. I look forward to working together to get more people into the outdoors, preserve wild places, stop the poisoning of local communities, and guarantee America does its part to help save the planet.

Our success depends on two things, continuing to build and execute the best campaigns to save our planet and wild places and also centering and investing more in our traditional work of leading soul-changing outings and winning righteous local fights. One is the great must-win global existential imperative of our times. The others are the way we nurture and grow the Sierra Club and our movement!” — Ben Jealous   

I am just getting to know Ben, through reading his new book, Never Forget Our People Were Always Free: A Parable of American Healing. As I read, I feel that I am gaining an understanding of his collaborative, intersectional approach, and, by midway, the uplifting message embedded in the title is revealed. Separate essays touch on his development as a leader and organizer, and trace his family history back before slavery, through reconstruction, and to his home in Monterrey, California, giving a context to his commitment to equity and to nature. It's a compelling read!

Ben has jumped in with both feet! I was thrilled to see his statements on the East Palestine Ohio toxic train disaster, the Sierra Club’s legal response to the Willow Oil Project approval, and a recent article in The Guardian, US banks are sacrificing poor communities to the climate crisis,” co-authored with Bill McKibben, in advance of nationwide rallies to demand that banks divest from fossil fuel investments. 

Learn more about Ben Jealous and his vision for Sierra Club.

Check out Ben’s top 5 takeaways from his Sierra Club Listening Tour.

While Ben didn’t stop in Connecticut this time, we’ll hope to host him soon and have a chance to meet this inspiring leader in person!

All best wishes for your Spring adventures!


Susan Eastwood is Chapter Chair of Sierra Club Connecticut.

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