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.