Breakthrough Generation Launches

June 10, 2008 | Teryn Norris,

Breakthrough Generation, a new national youth organization sponsored by the Breakthrough Institute, has officially launched. Breakthrough Generation has two directors and thirteen Fellows for the summer and beyond - some of the top young thinkers and organizers in the country (see profiles below) - and for the next two months we are working together in our Oakland office to help advance a more powerful, intellectual, expansive youth progressive movement. Our blog and website are located here:


We also have a page on the Breakthrough Institute, our host think tank:


Breakthrough Generation was founded on the premise that young people
are today faced with an unprecedented opportunity to define a new
politics for a new era. In the wake of the collapse of the Bush
presidency, amidst the drift of American political identities and the
emergence of new political fault lines, a new politics is being born.
Its shape has yet to be determined, but youth are already taking the
lead. Young adults are shaping the course of the 2008 elections, and
the youth energy movement has become the largest student movement in
decades. How young Americans seize this opportunity may define the
course of this country for years to come.

Between 2008 and 2010, Breakthrough Generation aims to capture this
opportunity by fostering the development of a youth movement capable of
fully grappling with the scale and complexity of today's greatest
challenges and advancing large-scale solutions in the near and long
term. We believe that any effective and long-lasting movement must
speak to core values and philosophies, not issues and interests. We
also believe that effective activism today is dramatically different
from that of the past, and the most powerful movements of the 21st
century will be those based on "thought activism." As a result, we
situate ourselves at the intersection of policy, politics, psychology,
and philosophy - seeking to bridge the gap between youth activism and

Breakthrough Generation - like our parent think tank, the
Breakthrough Institute - is committed to creating a politics that
recognizes the central importance of prosperity and security to our
ability to become creative, unique, and caring individuals. Our
overarching mission is to overcome ecological crises through a new kind
of global economic development that increases security, expands
opportunity, and unleashes human innovation. We see the creation of a
new global clean energy economy as the defining challenge and
opportunity of our time and the center of the neo-progressive movement.

During the summer of 2008, Breakthrough Generation Fellows will help
the Breakthrough Institute to create and advance a new national and
global agenda for clean energy technology policy. One group of
approximately five to six Fellows will research the specific public
programs and incentives needed for technological breakthroughs in the
performance and price of clean energy technology, either for a series
of articles and blogs or a large white paper. The second group of six
to seven Fellows will focus on Breakthrough's political strategy to
advance this technology agenda, including a strategy for the web,
blogging, campus and student organizing, and the election and
inauguration of a new Congress and administration.


Teryn Norris

Associate Director

Teryn Norris is Associate Director of the Breakthrough Fellows Program
and Founding Director of Breakthrough Generation, the youth initiative
of the Breakthrough Institute. Teryn was previously a Research Fellow
at the Breakthrough Institute and American Environics, where he
co-authored "Fast, Clean, Cheap: Cutting Global Warming's Gordian
Knot," a white paper on U.S. federal energy policy for the Nathan
Cummings Foundation that advocates major public investments in clean
energy. Its findings were published in the Spring 2008 edition of the Harvard Law and Policy Review.
Teryn studied political science and economics as an undergraduate at
Johns Hopkins University. He served as president of his class and in
2006 founded and led the Hopkins Energy Action Team, a student
initiative supported by Energy Action and the Chesapeake Climate Action
Network that won its campaign to achieve a university-wide climate
policy. Teryn now serves as the student representative to the new JHU
President's Task Force on Climate Change. During his sophomore year
Teryn was Research Assistant to Dr. Steve H. Hanke, one of the world's
most renowned monetary economists. Teryn has also worked for the Sierra
Club and Environment California, where he was involved in advocacy and
fundraising for the California Global Warming Solutions Act. He helped
organize Power Shift 2007, has written for, and blogs on, WattHead, and the Breakthrough Blog.

Jesse Jenkins Jesse Jenkins

Associate Director

Jesse Jenkins is a policy advocate, activist, researcher and blogger.
Before joining the Breakthrough Institute, Jesse spent two years as a
Research and Policy Associate at the Renewable Northwest Project where
he worked to advance the development of the Pacific Northwest's
abundant renewable energy potential. While at RNP, Jesse helped secure
the passage and successful implementation of the Oregon Renewable
Energy Act. He is also proud of his successful intervention in a number
of Oregon regulatory dockets that helped block new pulverized coal
plant development and ensure utilities' prioritize energy efficiency,
conservation and renewable energy. In addition to his work at RNP,
Jesse worked part-time as a researcher and software developer for the
Department of Physics at the University of Oregon, where he developed
an interactive model to explore the effects of the changing composition
of vehicle fleets, including increased use of alternative vehicles and
fuels. Jesse has a long history of climate activism and is a co-founder
of the Cascade Climate Network, the Northwest's largest network of
youth working to tackle the climate crisis and build a sustainable,
just, and prosperous future. The founder and blogmaster of the site,
WattHead - Energy News and Commentary, Jesse has also been an active
blogger since 2005 and writes at several sites throughout the
blogosphere. Jesse graduated in 2006 with a B.S. from the Robert D.
Clark Honors College at the University of Oregon (magna cum laude),
where he completed an interdisciplinary course of study in computer
science, philosophy, liberal arts, political science & energy
studies. When not trying to "save the world," Jesse enjoys rock
climbing, cycling, ultimate frisbee, disc golf and handcrafted beers.

Arnold.jpg Zach Arnold,
a native of Swarthmore, PA, is a sophomore at Harvard College studying
social theory and environmental policy. He serves as co-chair and
communications director of the Harvard College Environmental Action
Committee and is currently leading a major campaign for climate
neutrality and expanded climate research at Harvard. He also works as
an urban gardener in the Cambridge school system, and will be a
delegate to this year's session of the UN Commission on Sustainable
Development. Zach is particularly interested in deforestation,
agriculture policy, and the effect of institutional design on
conservation outcomes. Before coming to Harvard, he spent time working
for the National Park Service and as a farmhand in Pennsylvania and
Italy. In his spare time, he cooks, bikes around, and reads far too
many blogs.

Aki.jpg Helen Aki,
is a sophomore from Bard College at Simon's Rock. Her interest in
environmental, political and social studies have developed ever since
her middle school years, and she is currently pursuing a concentration
in Environmental Studies, Society and the Environment, or Sustainable
Development, depending on what school she transfers to for her junior
year. Helen recently wrote two chapters comparing environmental and
ecological economics for a compilation of research perspectives on
global peak oil production. Two years at a small liberal arts college
has left her inundated and frustrated with theory, and she is anxious
to channel theory into praxis. Recently, she has become interested in
the potential of decentralized indigenous or grassroots power and the
notion of "everyday resistance," and has begun to appreciate the
pragmatism of those involved in such politics, compared to disengaged
academics. She is currently working on a black and white photography
project, "exposing modernity through the bodies of mobilization," in an
effort to find a nexus of political acts, the aesthetic of modernity
and community, interference with the pace of time, and what people look
like when they think no one is looking. She is also a singer-songwriter.

Barge.jpg Rachel Barge,
is a graduating senior at UC Berkeley and a 2007 recipient of the David
Brower Youth Award. Last year she co-created The Green Initiative Fund
(TGIF), a student fee referendum at Berkeley that successfully secured
more than $2 million over ten years for sustainability projects on
campus. TGIF funds clean energy, sustainable transportation, improved
energy efficiency, water conservation, green internships, and improved
recycling and composting programs. Rachel also founded The
Sustainability Team (Steam), the central environmental student group at
Berkeley. Steam implements green projects such as expanded bio-diesel
for the campus fleet and created The Local -- the first organic, local,
student-run cooperative produce stand on campus. Rachel is now working
to expand The Green Initiative Fund into a national program that will
help university campuses nationwide secure hundreds of millions of
dollars for renewable energy. In her free time Rachel loves cooking
vegan desserts in her co-op, playing frisbee, teaching her Organic
Gardening class, and biking in the Berkeley hills.

Bennett.jpg Genevieve Bennett,
a 21 year-old New Jersey native, is primarily interested in the
political economy of "sustainability" and environmental policy. She is
intrigued by the implications for economic development and trade of a
renewable energy-based economy, and by the possibilities for
participation by different actors -- public, private, and civil
society. Most of her professional experience has been within the field
of human rights, particularly in research and capacity-building for
organizations working for social change. She interned at the Center for
the Study of Human Rights, and worked as a project assistant at the
Research Center for Leadership in Action, assisting in social science
research on leadership in social justice work. Most recently she has
been working for the New York City Commission to the United Nations
planning an international summit, "Climate Change and Public Health:
the Urban Policy Connection." She expects to pursue a Master's degree
next year at the London School of Economics in environmental policy.
She recently received her B.A. from the Gallatin School of
Individualized Study at New York University, concentrating in
international political economy and political theory. At NYU, she was a
co-founder of the interdisciplinary undergraduate Journal of Global
Affairs. Genevieve currently lives in Washington Heights, New York. She
plays for a soccer team in Brooklyn, and likes to search the city for
cheap meals and occasionally escape to go rock climbing.

Calabrese.jpg Joanna Calabrese,
is currently a sophomore environmental science and policy major at the
University of College Park, MD. In her freshman year, she co-founded a
student group, Clean Energy for UMD in response to the lack of climate
activism on her campus. Clean Energy for UMD successfully gauged
student interest in funding green initiatives on campus and was
integral in achieving a state wide victory to make all Maryland System
schools carbon neutral. Joanna was elected president of Clean Energy
for UMD in the spring of 2007 and is currently working to unite
students behind clean energy investment. In response to student demands
for a more sustainable campus, the President of the University of
Maryland signed onto the President's Climate Commitment, and Joanna was
selected to serve as a student representative on the school's Climate
Action Workgroup, working on administrative and educational policy for
CO2 emission reductions. Throughout this, she served as a legislator in
her school's Student Government Association, writing and passing
policies in support of environmentally responsible campus affairs while
working to register over 250 new voters. She also assisted in planning
and organizing Recyclemania 2008 for the University of Maryland and
helped to unite students to create a "Green Groups Roundtable" on her
campus. Joanna has been interning this past semester in Washington DC
for the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming,
researching legislative initiatives, attending Congressional hearings,
and undertaking press and media projects for the committee.

Fowler.jpg Alisha Fowler,
graduated from Hamilton College in 2006 with a B.A. in Geoscience and
Environmental Studies. While at Hamilton, Alisha co-led the Hamilton
Environmental Action Group and worked with the college community to
bring more sustainable energy practices to their campus situated on the
edge of the Adirondack Mountains. She still volunteers with Graduates
for a Greener Hamilton. Alisha has spent the past year working in
Communications with the National Wildlife Federation in their office of
Congressional and Federal Affairs in Washington, D.C. Her media work
with NWF has focused primarily on global warming and legislation
currently being considered by Congress. To that end, she has written
and distributed a weekly newsletter about global warming to reporters
nationwide. She is also actively engaged in the blogosphere and online
social media strategies. Before joining NWF, Alisha worked with PIRG as
a campus organizer on the Campus Climate Challenge, and as a museum
educator at the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia. Alisha
senses the enormous urgency and economic opportunities associated with
global warming and strongly desires to aid the transition to a clean
energy society. She is most passionate about utilizing her academic
background in science and professional experience in communications to
engage the public in creating positive environmental and economic

Franklin.jpg Lindsey Franklin,
graduated from Middlebury College in 2007 with a B.A. in Environmental
Studies/Philosophy and a passion for climate change solutions. The
summer and fall of 2007 found her in New Hampshire for the Presidential
primary, working on three consecutive campaigns to highlight climate
change as a key voting issue in the 2008 elections. She helped organize
a five day walk for clean energy across New Hampshire in the beginning
of August, then joined with the Step it Up campaign to coordinate
hundreds of climate rallies nationwide in November. She spent the last
months before the primary co-directing a campaign with the League of
Conservation Voters to increase climate change visibility and coverage
at candidate events, sparking and developing her interest in a socially
just national climate policy that also spurs economic opportunity.
Living now in San Francisco, she misses the snow of New England but
loves the thriving culture of city life and the extraordinary amount of
environmental and social justice action in the Bay Area. She also can't
wait to explore everything mountainous within just a few hours of the

Knight.jpg Chris Knight
currently works for UC Davis sociologist Fred Block on a project that
seeks to uncover some of the government's hidden roles in the economy,
and is also employed as a math T.A. at De Anza high school in Richmond.
He wrote his senior thesis on the influence of political variables upon
the development of economic thought, and maintains strong interests in
economics, humanistic psychology, and clean energy. Growing up in a
rural and somewhat conservative household, Chris is especially
interested in seeing how Breakthrough can build diverse coalitions that
create solutions to seemingly intractable problems. When he's not
scheming for social optimization, he enjoys trail running and listening
to all kinds of music. He graduated from UC Davis in June 2007 with a
B.A. in economics.

Lin.jpg Ashley Lin
is a second year rhetoric major at the University of California,
Berkeley. Originally from Minnesota, she loves that California is sunny
most of the year and appreciates not having to run through snow in the
winter. She has spent a summer as an intern for the Institute for Food
and Development Policy and has written about bio-fuels for the student
science journal The Triple Helix. Ashley plans to minor in Chinese and
is fluent in the mandarin dialect. Concurrently with Chinese, she is
learning French and will spend a semester abroad in Lyon. Ashley enjoys
watermelon and is known for her ability to eat an entire half by
herself. She is very excited to be working with such an intelligent
group of people this summer!

Rodriques.jpg Adam Rodriques
is a rising junior at Yale University, where he is majoring in
Political Science. More specifically, he is focusing his studying on
the ongoing crises in the Middle East on a regional as well as a
geopolitical scale. By combining scholarship in history, religion,
psychology, cognitive science, and political science, Adam hopes to be
able to approach the situation from a sufficiently comprehensive
perspective, both in academia and in the rest of his career, which he
wants to spend working in a think tank. Adam is also a member of the
Center on Security and Foreign Policy of the Roosevelt Institution's
Yale chapter, where he has collaborated on a policy paper examining the
feasibility of an international fund to promote peace efforts in the
Middle East, as well as an ongoing project that is looking into
bringing together Kenyan youths across tribal lines.

Tsongas.jpg Molly Tsongas
is focused on using social marketing and community organizing tools to
mobilize Americans to create a clean energy economy. She served as the
Pennsylvania State Director for SmartPower, a non-profit marketing
organization for clean energy and energy efficiency from 2006-2008. In
that role, Molly managed the Pennsylvania Clean Energy Communities
Campaign, a program that recruits municipalities to purchase and market
clean energy in their communities. In 2007, she was trained by The
Climate Project to give "Inconvenient Truth" presentations to educate
the public about climate change. Molly founded the Estabrook Woods
Alliance, an organization that conducts community organizing and direct
action to preserve a forest in Massachusetts. Molly graduated from
Brown University in 2005 with a B.A. in Environmental Studies.

Yurk.jpg Natasha Yurk
is a junior Social Policy and Legal Studies major from Northwestern
University. Originally from Indianapolis, Natasha has been competing in
speech and debate for the past seven years. College debate has exposed
her to some of her greatest research interests, including African
development and innovation in renewable energy (part of the reason that
she is drawn to the Breakthrough Institute). Next year's research topic
is Latin American politics and foreign relations, one of her favorite
areas of study. At Northwestern, Natasha is currently working on a
project called the Northwestern Political Forum, a bipartisan, open
forum, political discussion group. She has also worked on several
campus judicial boards and plans on becoming a lawyer/judge/law
professor in the near future.

Zemel.jpg Adam Zemel
is finishing up his first year at Brandeis University in Waltham, MA.
He grew up in the D.C. area, where political and governmental awareness
and discussion are a fact of life. A philosophy major, he is deeply
interested in philosophy of language and theories of knowledge. Adam
borrowed Break Through from a friend last November, and has been
exploring the ecological and social ideas proposed in the book for the
past few months. He is drawn to the Breakthrough Institute for the
broad and big ideas about progressive politics, the recognition of a
need to create a new social contract in America, and the acknowledgment
of material security as a precondition for ecological concern and
awareness. The understanding that humans organize their world and
understand their individual places within it through narratives and
stories, and the recognition that this is more profound a fact than
liberals have appreciated up until now, is the reason he identifies
with the Breakthrough Institute's mission.


This is funny. I was just wondering yesterday why I hadn't heard of the Breakthrough Generation blog before, while I've been subscribed to this blog for a long time. You were in a kind of stealth-mode, I understand.

I think this a great initiative. For me it once again confirms the strong DNA of The Breakthrough Institute. But I can say that I've got even higher expectations of this "spin-off".

Good luck!

By Meryn Stol on 2008 06 11