Meet Jessy Shelton, California Greenworks Project Lead

Jessy has served 10 years, both professionally and voluntarily, working with nonprofits. She holds a B.S. in Environmental Science and Resource Management with an emphasis in Marine Sciences. In her freetime, she is a SCUBA instructor and enjoys freediving, snorkeling, surfing, skateboarding, rock climbing, camping and running around with her dog.

Here’s more from Jessy about why she’s a part of California Greenworks:

I am from a small town in a valley of southern California. Compared to the beach, the valley climate is cold at night and very hot during the day, with little breeze. I grew up going to the beach as often as I could, and partially the reason behind it was the temperature change. 

When it comes to environmental issues, the lack of understanding about the severity of the state of the planet is something that worries me. Globally, climate change is my biggest concern, as well as agricultural methods, commercial fishing and overall natural resource usage. 

I hope to build a stronger connection to the community and get our name out there more. I hope to bring attention to other environmental issues as well. I have 10 years, both professionally and voluntarily, working for nonprofits serving the community. I think I bring a new perspective to the team and am slowly building a network of other groups in the community to expand our reach!

I am inspired most by CGW being a resource for the community. I love that we are becoming a group to inform the public, put them in front of decision makers, and create a greener space for the city.

Meet Michael Berns, California Greenworks Program and Project Director

Michael has served 14 years in the nonprofit industry. He holds a PhD in Anthropology and is passionate about the environment and mental health. In his free time, he enjoys reading, traveling, surfing and making mosaics out of recycled material (

Here’s more from Michael about why he’s a part of California Greenworks:

I grew up in the Santa Monica mountains of Los Angeles, where I ran cross country from an early age. Oak savannas and the grassy hills were always my happy place.  As I got older, I began to surf and began to notice how everything, and I mean everything, funnels into the bay of LA. After a storm, we were warned not to surf for at least 48 hours due to the increase in contaminants.  This really hit home when I saw all the trash, litter, diapers and dead possums in the water. 

CGW’s drive towards climate equity keeps me passionate. As a secular Jew from Los Angeles, the concept of social justice was constantly discussed in my family and community. I love that I am able to learn about the specific environmental aspects of social justice; and, I feel honored that CGW provides me with opportunities to correct the glaring injustices of the world.

I hope to create an impact at CGW by following the mantra of scalability.  The world won’t be saved in one day, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. I hope to create more research and insights into the correlation between mental health and the environment. I hope to create opportunities of redressing historical environmental injustices. I hope to leave the world a better place than how I found it. I am an asset to the mission because of my training and passion towards research: I like reading and I like learning! I can also bridge seemingly disparate parts into a whole. I will continue to contribute to CGW through my passion, research skills, unique insights and perseverance.

Meet Mike Meador, California Greenworks Founder & CEO

Mike has served as the leader of this environmental nonprofit for 20 years. He holds both a BA and MBA and is passionate about environmental justice, open space, and protection of our natural resources air, water and land. 

Here’s more from Mike about why he started and remains committed to California Greenworks:

My family was involved in the agriculture industry in Texas, and much of my perspective comes from that experience. When I moved to Los Angeles, my eyes were quickly drawn to the abundance of urban blight: areas ridden with deteriorating or abandoned homes and other buildings, vacant lots, weeds and very little green space. 

In Los Angeles, I met a girl from Kenya encouraged me to look at into the environmental space. That was back in 2000, and there weren’t very many African Americans involved in the environmental movement. At this time, we were just looking at what we could do to make things better in Los Angeles specifically. When we talk about environmental justice – the majority of low income communities are in the same areas as those industrial facilities – which harms health and wellbeing – and we started looking into projects as to how to improve this.

It was on a sailing trip with another founding member that California Greenworks was born. Noticing the excess trash in the water and all our conversations about environmental injustice in the background, it became clear something needed to be done. It should be a civil right for everyone to have clean water and clean air. And so, we started California Greenworks to create that change.