Jessica Brown

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Jessica Brown is an internationally recognized expert and policymaker with over 15 years of experience working at the nexus of climate change, development, and poverty reduction in the global South. She has led policy, finance, grantmaking, research, and consulting activities for foundations, NGOs and the United States government.

At ClimateWorks, Jessica supports the Foundation’s efforts to advance racial and social justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion across all aspects of the organization. Jessica’s interests lie in building equitable and unbiased internal systems and grantmaking approaches as well as people-centered climate solutions. She previously was director of the Clean Cooling Collaborative (formerly named Kigali Cooling Efficiency Program), a $60M+ global program to advance efficient, climate-friendly cooling for all.

Before joining ClimateWorks, Jessica was a foreign affairs officer at the U.S. State Department, where she led the international climate finance negotiations. She has also held various positions at the Overseas Development Institute, Climate Policy Initiative, and California Environmental Associates.

Examples of Jessica’s work include: designing equitable governance arrangements for bilateral and multilateral climate funds; leading efforts within the U.S. government to increase overall contributions to international climate aid, including the Obama Administration’s initial $3 billion pledge to the Green Climate Fund; managing the U.S.-Africa Clean Energy Finance Initiative; and research commissioned by international development agencies critiquing the distributional benefits of REDD and carbon offset projects to local communities.

Jessica holds a Masters in International Development Studies from the London School of Economics, a Master of Public Administration in Environmental Science and Policy from Columbia University’s School for International and Public Affairs, and a Bachelors in Political Science from Barnard College.

Makeeba Browne

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Makeeba Browne is the Director of Equity and Justice at ClimateWorks Foundation. She brings over 16 years of experience working with foundations, academic institutions, nonprofits to transform ideas into effective strategies and policies that address pressing social issues. Makeeba applies her leadership and operational acumen to engage stakeholders and support programs firmly rooted in equity and justice.

Makeeba rejoined ClimateWorks in 2021 after five years of consulting with various institutions. Through her consulting practice, Makeeba has facilitated small and large group sessions related to diversity, equity, and inclusion for nonprofit, academic, philanthropic, and private organizations. She has also worked with institutions to revamp strategic plans, implement new programs, and design initiatives across many topics, including youth leadership development, equitable climate solutions, accessing arts in youth detention centers, and equitable evaluations for environmental philanthropies in the U.S. and abroad. From 2008-2016, Makeeba was at ClimateWorks, where she provided strategic portfolio management, grantmaking, and operations support.

Makeeba holds a BS in American Studies with an emphasis on race and pop culture from Dickinson College and a certificate for grant writing from Temple University. Outside of the climate and philanthropy space, Makeeba advocates creating inclusive environments on college campuses. She is also a storyteller, using narratives to imagine equitable, thriving futures for BIPOC communities across the globe.

Tasneem Essop

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Tasneem Essop is an expert on climate, energy, poverty, and social justice issues and is the executive director of Climate Action Network-International, a global civil society network in over 130 countries. Ms. Essop has held various senior government positions in South Africa, including as a provincial minister. She was also a global climate policy and strategy leader for WWF International, where she led the delegation for the organization at the UNFCCC. Ms. Essop completed her second term as commissioner in the National Planning Commission of South Africa. She was also a member of the Board of Sanparks, the leading conservation authority in South Africa.

Dr. Kumi Naidoo

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Dr. Kumi Naidoo is a life-long human rights and environmental activist who has led a range of education, development, and social justice initiatives. He is the founding chair of Africans Rising, a Pan-African movement of people and organizations working for peace, justice, and dignity. Dr. Naidoo previously held executive roles at Amnesty International, Greenpeace International, and CIVICUS. He began his career as the founding executive director of the South African National NGO Coalition. Dr. Naidoo has also served on the boards of Global Reporting Initiative,, the Global Greengrants Fund, and as a member of the UN Women’s civil society advisory committee.

Illyasha Peete

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Illyasha “Illy” Peete is the Chief of Equity, Justice, and Culture at ClimateWorks Foundation. Illy will continue to lead ambitious and proactive efforts at ClimateWorks to incorporate equity, access, and justice into the foundation’s practices, programs, and services.

Illy joins ClimateWorks from California Life Sciences, where she served as executive director of the Racial and Social Equity Initiative. She also previously served as the director of diversity, training, and consulting at the Center for Nonprofit Excellence and executive director of Breathe California of the Bay Area. Illy consulted and led diversity and inclusion projects designed to shift organizational culture, supporting organizations across sectors on a global stage. She has trained current and emerging leaders to help them realize their potential and create workspaces that foster a sense of belonging.

Illy earned a bachelor’s degree from Western Michigan University and a Master of Business Administration from Ashford University. She earned a Diversity and Inclusion Certificate from Cornell University and holds a certificate in Strategic Perspectives in Nonprofit Leadership from Harvard Business School.

Richard Woo

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Richard Woo has 30 years of experience in philanthropy, impact investing, and social equity. He continues to apply that knowledge as a volunteer on the Greater Tacoma Community Foundation Board, the Advisory Board of Ethical Apparel Africa, and the Advisory Council of Front & Centered, a statewide climate justice coalition in Washington. Mr. Woo also advises nonprofit and private sector enterprises on matters of board governance, culture-building, and diversity, equity and inclusion. He is the former chief executive officer of The Russell Family Foundation and the past executive director of the Levi Strauss Foundation. He was a founding steering committee member of Divest-Invest Philanthropy (climate action). Mr. Woo also served on the boards of the Council on Foundations, Philanthropy Northwest, and Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy.