Upper Valley Adaptation Workgroup and Vital Communities present:

Upper Valley Climate Change Leadership Academy

The Climate Change Leadership Academy (2CLA) pilot brought together 25 aspiring community leaders in the Upper Valley to learn how to take meaningful action on climate change.   Read about the inaugural 2CLA Class of 2020 and their community projects.

2021 Leadership Academy Session Dates

March 24, 2021
April 7, 2021
April 21, 2021
May 5, 2021
May 19, 2021
June 2, 2021
June 16, 2021 (Graduation)

Participants are expected to attend all sessions, and must attend at least five meetings to graduate.


Contact Sarah Brock
802-291-9100 x109

Special Thanks

This 2021 Climate Change Leadership Academy (2CLA) is made possible through the in-kind support from the 2CLA planning team members:

Caroline Wren
Cori Hirai
Kate Salamido
Jenevra Wetmore
Michael Caduto
Erich Osterberg
Joey Sullivan

This year’s 2CLA program is also made possible in part by financial support from the New England Grassroots Environment Fund, the Vermont Community Foundation, and the Cotyledon Fund.

Vermont Community Foundation - Community Foundation Opportunity Network

What is the Climate Change Leadership Academy (2CLA)?

2CLA, a project of the Upper Valley Adaptation Workgroup (UVAW) will educate, inspire, and prepare Upper Valley participants to take meaningful action on climate change mitigation and adaptation in their communities. Participants will:

  • Learn what is happening globally and locally and what can be done about it.
  • Participate in presentations, group discussions, and collaborative work sessions.
  • Design and launch a project as a climate leader to make a difference in their own communities.
  • Graduate ready to inspire, motivate, and encourage others to take action.

Each participant will develop a project individually or as part of a small team. Each project will have support and input from the rest of the class. These projects may take any form and might involve art, public education, community workdays, or any other activity that generates positive community impact related to climate change. Projects will be shared at a public celebration at the end of the program.

Our six Academy sessions will include expert presentations, group discussion, and collaborative work sessions on the topic of climate change, including what is happening globally and locally, and what can be done about it. Our curriculum will teach participants how to use a design-thinking approach to develop solutions to climate change. We believe that climate solutions must be accessible to individuals who are most directly affected by climate change and will teach participants how to seek and incorporate input from climate-vulnerable populations into their project design. By the end of this program, participants will be expected to apply their learning and develop a community service project that promotes climate resiliency in their community and that is informed by those most adversely affected by climate change in their communities.

When and where does the Academy take place?

The cohort will meet every other Wednesday evening from 5:30 to 7:30 pm, starting March 24, 2021, with the graduation taking place June 16, 2021. The sessions will be held virtually via zoom until it is safe to meet in person. Any in-person meetings will follow COVID-19 safety precautions, and participants can opt for remote participation. Attendance is expected at every meeting and a light dinner will be provided for any in-person session.

Who can participate?

Everyone is welcome to apply. You don’t need any prior knowledge about climate change to participate. We will be selecting up to 25 participants from among our applicants. Our goal is to recruit a diverse cohort across different social groupings (age, town, socio-economic status, race/ethnicity, gender identity, etc.), with each participant bringing a unique perspective to the cohort. We believe that creating a learning environment rich in diversity and full of opportunities to engage with unfamiliar ideas, perspectives, cultures, and people will prepare participants to become change agents in their communities.

Program Fee

Once selected, participants will be asked to pay a one-time, $30 fee for the entire program. Scholarships are available upon request (contact caroline@vitalcommunities.org).

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the agenda for the six 2CLA meetings?

This year’s 2CLA session schedule:

March 24, 2021 | Understanding Climate Change – Our first session will focus on understanding the science behind climate change and how climate impacts are disproportionately distributed within the Upper Valley. Our guests will lead a group discussion to engage the class in understanding how global changes have local impacts and how to make those connections to others in our community. We’ll also introduce the concept of design thinking which will serve as a framework for developing community-based solutions that address climate change.

April 7, 2021 | Mitigation – During this session we’ll hear from community organizers who are leading efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the Upper Valley and beyond. Our guests will lead a group discussion on what’s possible in our own communities, inspiring ideas for local action that address the root causes of climate. Participants will also learn how to create solutions by first developing an understanding of the problem they wish to solve and of the people affected by the problem.  

April 21, 2021 | Adaptation –  We’ll hear some examples of adaptation and how communities are working to adapt to the impacts of climate change. Together we will examine opportunities and generate ideas for climate action that can strengthen the resilience of Upper Valley communities.

May 5, 2021 | Opportunities for local action – The class will review what we’ve learned about climate impacts, climate, and adaptation strategies and share what issues participants hope to tackle through their community climate action projects. 

May 19, 2021 | Project Development – This session will focus on teaching participants how to turn their project ideas into action following the design thinking process. Participants will hear examples of successful projects and learn how to prototype and test their projects to ensure their solutions address the problem they set out to solve. Participants will receive feedback from fellow participants and Upper Valley Adaptation Workgroup members on their project ideas. 

June 2, 2021 | How to be a just and equitable leader – Participants will share progress on their project ideas, and together we’ll examine what it means to be a climate leader in the Upper Valley. We’ll focus on building the communication and community-organizing skills that are critical for successfully implementing community climate action projects. By the end of this session, participants will learn skills and strategies to help them engage with diverse community stakeholders and advocate for all members of their community. Participants also will gain an understanding of how climate change and environmental justice are linked.

June 16, 2021 | Public celebration – Our final gathering will be a public celebration showcasing 2CLA leaders’ climate action projects ready for implementation. 

What criteria will be used to select participants?

Our goal is to recruit a diverse cohort across different social groupings (age, town, socio-economic status, race/ethnicity, gender identity, etc.), with each participant bringing a unique perspective to the cohort. We believe that creating a learning environment rich in diversity and full of opportunities to engage with unfamiliar ideas, perspectives, cultures, and people will prepare participants to become change agents in their communities. 

25 Upper Valley residents will be selected to participate and applications will be evaluated based on their responses to narrative questions. Applicants will be evaluated and selected based on the following criteria:

  • Ability to attend the six sessions
  • Eagerness to develop/learn leadership skills
  • Commitment to community engagement
  • Eagerness to develop a community climate action project
  • Adds to the diversity of our cohort through their lived experience, identity, perspectives on climate change

What if I can't attend all the meetings?

To graduate, participants are expected to attend at least five of the six sessions unless there are special circumstances. That said, we know unexpected things happen. If an emergency comes up at the last minute, we expect participants to let us know as soon as possible so that we can try to accommodate them.

Keep in mind that one of the biggest values of participating in 2CLA is the chance to engage with other participants through interactive sessions, and the learning that occurs during those moments is hard to make up. Our program builds from session to session, and keeping up with each step is value-added for each participant’s learning and their community service project. Full participation in the sessions makes a stronger learning environment for all involved.

About the Upper Valley Adaptation Workgroup

The Upper Valley Adaptation Workgroup (UVAW) is a bi-state, multi-stakeholder working group of leaders and partner organizations. Started in December 2011, the workgroup meets monthly to focus on building climate-resilient communities in the Upper Valley.

Our Working Definition of Climate Resiliency

Climate Resilience is the ability of a community to anticipate, prepare for, respond to, and recover from climate impacts in a way that minimizes significant disruption to our lives and impacts on our shared resources. This includes our health, safety, built environment, food availability, natural resources, wildlife, and financial strength.

Climate change is not some distant problem – it is happening here and now in the Upper Valley. In recent years, we have seen climate disruptions affect our communities in the form of droughts, deluges, ice and hail storms, intense cold snaps, and sudden heat waves. We must recognize these increasingly frequent extreme weather events for what they are: our new normal. 

Stay up to date for our upcoming forums & events and connect with adaptation resources and experts.

UVAW Members

Sherry Godlewski
NH Department of Environmental Services, Co-Chair UVAW

Alice Ely
Public Health Council of the Upper Valley

Michael Simpson
Antioch University New England

Gregory Norman
Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center

Alex Jaccaci
Hypertherm, Co-Chair UVAW

Kevin Geiger
Two Rivers Ottauquechee Regional Commission

Julia Griffin
Town of Hanover

Lizann Peyton
Nonprofit Consultant

Sarah Brock
Vital Communities

Meghan Butts
Upper Valley Lake Sunapee Regional Planning Commission

Mark Goodwin
City of Lebanon

Rosi Kerr
Dartmouth College

Beth Sawin
Climate Interactive

Lisa Wise
UNH Extension and NH Sea Grant

Erich Osterberg
Dartmouth College

Jenny Levy

Cameron Wake
University of NH, Carbon Solutions New England

Need to Contact Us?

Alex Jaccaci & Erich Osterberg, UVAW Co-Chairs | alex.jaccaci@hypertherm.com and erich.c.osterberg@dartmouth.edu

Sarah Brock, Vital Communities administrative support for UVAW | sarah@vitalcommunities.org, 802-291-9100 x109