Learn More About Our Program

Our vision and mission, staff, and funders

MISSION

Our mission is to empower emerging leaders from historically excluded backgrounds in science and academia to reimagine solutions for a just and healthy planet.

VISION

Our vision is to foster a new cadre of diverse and inclusive leaders in environmental justice who can help create systemic change by integrating the best available science and technology with the intergenerational knowledge of communities who have been disproportionately harmed by environmental degradation and historically excluded from decision-making because of racism, classism, and other systems of oppression.

OUR GOALS

1. Advance the careers and social impact of emerging environmental justice leaders

2. Inject new ideas in environmental/climate sciences and advocacy

3. Increase environmental and social justice literacy of students being trained in STEM fields such as epidemiology, earth sciences, and medicine

4. Make scientific information more accessible to communities historically excluded from decision making.

our staff

Ami Zota, ScD, MS
Ami Zota, ScD, MS
Program Director
Ami Zota is the founder and director of Agents of Change initiative. Dr. Zota is a tenured, Associate Professor in the Department of Environmental & Occupational Health at the George Washington University Milken School of Public Health. Dr. Zota’s work seeks to secure environmental justice and improve health equity through advancements in science, policy, and clinical practice.
Brian Bienkowski, MA
Brian Bienkowski, MA
Editor
Brian Bienkowski is the editor of the Agents of Change program. Bienkowski holds a master’s degree in environmental journalism from Michigan State University and is the senior editor of Environmental Health News. He brings more than a decade of environmental reporting and editing experience. His work—focused on toxic exposures, climate change, and environmental justice—seeks to hold those in power accountable and address systemic injustice.
Yoshira Ornelas Van Horne, PhD
Yoshira Ornelas Van Horne, PhD
Assistant Director of Curriculum Development and Cohort Engagement
Dr. Yoshira Ornelas Van Horne is currently a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Division of Environmental Health at the University of Southern California. Her research focuses on addressing unequal exposures to harmful contaminants that affect structurally marginalized communities.
Samar Ahmad, MPH
Samar Ahmad, MPH
Program Associate
Samar Ahmad joined the Agents of Change program as a Program Associate in 2020. She also serves as a Research Associate at The George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health in the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, where she works in the ARISE-EJ research lab under Dr. Ami Zota. 
Hannah Seo, MA
Hannah Seo, MA
Assistant Editor
Hannah Seo is a science journalist, podcast writer, and editor based in Brooklyn. In addition to Environmental Health News, their work can be found in Scientific American, WIRED, Popular Science, and Discover Magazine, among others.
Gwen Ranniger
Gwen Ranniger
Digital Communications Assistant
Gwen Ranniger joined the Agents of Change program as a Digital Communications Assistant in 2020. She’s worked with Environmental Health News since early 2020 and now serves as the Communications Manager.
Erin Gomez
Erin Gomez
Digital Communications Assistant
Erin Gomez is an MPH candidate at George Washington University, studying Environmental Health Science and Policy. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Health Promotion and Education from the University of Northern Iowa. Erin is passionate about addressing environmental injustices.

our funders

Beautycounter   |   Forsythia Foundation   |   Rachel’s Network   |    Broad Reach  |    Marisla Foundation   |    Passport  Foundation  |    Tides Foundation