Farewell and Thank You
Executive Director Keya Chatterjee announced in November 2022 that she will be leaving her role at the beginning of March after more than eight and a half years with USCAN. Below is the email she shared with the USCAN community, followed by answers to questions you may have about what happens next.
Happy first day of COP and election eve! I am writing today to share some news with you: after nine annual meetings, our upcoming annual meeting in February 2023 will be my last as Executive Director of US Climate Action Network.
I love USCAN, and it will always be a part of me. I am incredibly proud of the work that we have done. During this time, we have turned a large but struggling network into a thriving community that is increasingly recognized as a national leader in centering relationships, equity and justice in our struggle for climate justice. Our network leaders pushed for the passage of the Paris Climate Agreement, have led press conferences at the UN Climate meetings, have led acts of disruptive humanitarianism taking on dirty companies that are poisoning our communities, and held briefings for Congress urging the US to play a better role in the world, together.
We started, expanded, and evolved a peer-review grants program where our members decide who gets resources. We began giving stipends to leaders of color for time spent on network collaborative work. We began using ranked choice voting to decide our priorities so that our members can lead the way, and we can live the kind of decision making we want to see in the world. We drafted a massive policy document, the Vision for Equitable Climate Action (VECA) that guided our input to the Green New Deal and the THRIVE act, that created space to pass the good things in the Inflation Reduction Act, and that we are using to do popular education. We welcomed new activists through our Arm in Arm programs and deepened our impact through a new 501 c(4) organization. We started a DC political action committee to launch and support the work of Green New Deal for DC. We established a Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI) statement, plan and committee that is copied and used by organizations around the US, and is focusing its attention on accountability. We have transitioned our board into being majority people of color. In collaboration with our partners, we established the Green New Deal Network, providing a justice-focused counterweight to the Climate Action Campaign, where we continue to collaborate with the largest of our member organizations in campaigns.
USCAN has grown substantially over the past nine years and is in a strong financial position, which has allowed us to successfully weather the COVID-19 pandemic when we could not host in person fundraisers. You can remain confident that USCAN and our partnerships and collaborations are in very good shape for the transition to come.
I fell in love with USCAN because of its passionate and fun members, its potential to advance anti-racism within climate activism, its boldness to challenge systemic inequities, and its willingness to accomplish big and exciting things. But what I have loved most about this role is the community of people I have had the honor to work with. I love my USCAN family!
Little will change for USCAN members in this transition. We have a truly dedicated team and an incomparable board. Carrie Clayton will continue in her role as Network Systems Senior Director with the support of Stephanie Ready and our newly hired Deputy Director, Amelia Cole; Rosita Scarborough will continue to lead the Engagement team along with Marie Risalvato and Natalie Lucas, and Lindsay Harper will continue to lead the amazing Arm in Arm team.
I informed the Board of Directors in the summer of 2022 of my plan to leave after the next annual meeting and my last day will be on my birthday March 4. The Board is in the process of hiring an Executive Director and will conduct a national search with Koya Leadership Partners for a new Executive Director. I will be available to the organization for several weeks afterwards to provide knowledge and support during the transition. I am mindful of the imperative that all of our collaborations, and the strategic plan be seamlessly picked up by the next Executive Director, and I chose this time to transition partly so that a new Executive Director can own the next Strategic Plan and take our network forward in exciting ways.
Thank you for being a part of USCAN’s activist community!
With much gratitude,
Questions About the Transition
What will happen next?
The USCAN Board of Directors is conducting a national search for a permanent Executive Director. The Board will engage staff and members in the process to find the right person for the organization and our community, working with Koya Leadership Partners.
How soon will the new ED be in place?
The board is aiming for March 2023, but Carrie Clayton has generously offered to serve as interim Executive Director if there is a short gap.
When is Keya’s last day?
Keya’s last day as Executive Director will be at the end of our next Annual Meeting in New Orleans on March 4, 2023. She’ll be available to staff and the new Executive Director for several weeks after that to help with the transition.
Will the new strategic plan be in place before Keya leaves?
The board is holding a retreat in December to finalize the strategic plan and aims to have a final version ready for the Annual Meeting in February. If the strategic plan takes longer, the new executive director will finalize the plan when they are on board.
What will change for members, partners?
Not much. USCAN grants and CAN-International liaison work will continue to be led by Carrie. Action teams will continue to be led by Rosita and our Engagement team. Arm in Arm will continue to be led by Lindsay Harper. We will continue to fund members to engage in our coalition spaces as needed- with special thanks to Tim Judson who has been a leader in the Green New Deal Network space. Most members and activists won’t experience a big difference.
Where is Keya going next?
Keya has been with USCAN for nine years, and is the longest serving Executive Director of USCAN. She informed the Board last summer that she felt the time was right for her to take a breather. Since then, Keya lost her father and is dealing with a serious illness with her son, which requires her attention. Taking some time away from a day job is also an opportunity for Keya to explore new opportunities, including taking some time to refresh and write romance novels full of climate activists and a future where we win. If you want to get periodic updates about Keya’s writing, you can sign up for updates here.
How can I say goodbye to Keya?
A community gathering is being planned, on December 7 in DC. You can get a ticket here!
Will members/partners/donors be involved in the national search process?
The Board will use input from the strategic planning process to inform the job posting with members. The board will engage with Koya partners to make sure that the process is inclusive.