Podcast: Former Sierra Club Directors on Layoffs, Equity and Environmental Justice

cross-posted from the Green and Red Podcast

The Sierra Club is one of the oldest and largest environmental groups in the U.S.. It also has a problematic history, from being founded by racist John Muir to members penning the racist “Population Bomb,” advocating for population control, to former director Carl Pope promoting corporate greenwashing. Earlier this year, politician Ben Jealous became the organization’s new executive director and began a process of “restructuring” due to budget deficits. The restructuring led to layoffs that included the equity and environmental justice teams.

We talk with Hop Hopkins and Michelle Mascarenhas (@MG_MMS), two of the top directors, laid off in the Sierra Club’s restructuring about what happened, the impacts on environmental organizing and equity within the non-profit industrial complex.


Hop Hopkins is the former Director of Organizational Transformation at the Sierra Club, where he helped the organization evolve its commitment to anti-racism. Hop is a longtime social movement strategist and scholar, and has been a leader in movements from HIV/AIDS to anti-globalization, food sovereignty, anti-displacement and clean energy transition, after beginning his career as a grassroots environmental justice community organizer. Most recently he was a Climate Justice Fellow and adjunct professor at Antioch University. He is based on Tongva land in Los Angeles, CA.

Michelle Mascaranehas is the former National Director of Campaigns at the Sierra Club. Before coming to the Sierra Club, Michelle was a co-director of Movement Generation Justice & Ecology Project where she supported the formation of the Climate Justice Alliance, the Reclaim Our Power Utility Justice Project, and projects at the intersection of land, Indigenous sovereignty, reparations and Black liberation. Prior to her time at MG, Michelle worked as a union organizer and organized farm-to-school projects. Michelle is based on Chochenyo Ohlone land in Berkeley, CA.

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