Rebekah Jane Whilden
Company: Sierra Club
Position: Campaign Representative
WHERE WERE YOU BORN?
Rocky Mount, NC
HOW LONG HAVE YOU LIVED IN CHARLOTTE AREA?
Off and on for 4 years but permanently for the last 18 months.
TELL US A LITTLE BIT MORE ABOUT YOU?
I am North Carolina through and through. I grew up in Asheville, went to school in Boone, worked in Greensboro, and now I live in Charlotte. I got involved in politics at an early age (8), which led to a passion for justice. I am especially passionate about our climate change emergency and environmental justice in every community. One of my first jobs (aside from babysitting) was working to shut down a coal plant near my house in Asheville, and we won! After a long decommissioning process, the plant is now completely shut down.
The biggest professional accomplishment of my career was co-leading a coalition to pass comprehensive climate change legislation in Washington, DC named the Clean Energy DC Omnibus Act that included:
- A commitment to achieve a 100% renewable energy supply by 2032;
- Increasing fees on energy from dirty sources like coal and gas and uses the revenue to fund energy efficiency and renewable energy programs;
- Setting up one of the nation’s strongest energy performance standards for existing buildings to maximize energy efficiency;
- Encouraging drivers to purchase electric vehicles, expands electric vehicle charging stations and requires buses and other large fleets to transition away from fossil fuels and toward renewable electric power.
I am prouder of the time that I spend outside of work. I do not binge watch Netflix constantly or go out with friends every weekend; rather, I’m usually volunteering or traveling to somewhere that I’ve never been. Since COVID-19 has gotten in the way of traveling, I have been spending my time getting creative with ways to create a virtual community with the groups that I align myself with.
DURING YOUR TIME VOLUNTEERING FOR A COMMUNITY ACTIVITY OR PROJECT, WHAT IS YOUR MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT?
Winning a national collective bargaining agreement for 64 state and local Sierra Club chapters across the country. The effort involved over 300 hours of off-the-clock work and countless calls and emails. Working with my colleagues, crossing the finish line and winning recognition for over 130 coworkers across the country was an amazing experience.
IN YOUR OPINION, HOW DO YOU CONTRIBUTE TO THE COMMUNITY? PLEASE BE AS DETAILED AS YOU CAN.
There are people who contribute so much more, but I am a co-director of the North Carolina chapter of New Leaders Council, a non-profit organization that works to recruit, train and promote young civically-engaged leaders in government, business and industry. Local alums include members of the Charlotte City Council and the NC General Assembly. I am especially proud of my side hustle, helping to reelect Brandon Lofton (one of Charlotte’s best young leaders).
I serve on the national executive board for the Progressive Workers Union, which represents four national progressive organizations. Greenpeace, Union of Concerned Scientists, 350.org US, and the Sierra Club.
I have been involved with the YWCA Central Carolinas, co-leading a table at their We Believe luncheon and fundraising for the organization. Additionally, I’ve worked in my neighborhood to stock the food pantry for our local elementary school, Windsor Park Elementary.
During the initial months of COVID-19, when many essential services shut down, I volunteered with South Tryon Community UMC to help provide lunches, while working at night to prepare and deliver meals to the homeless community uptown.
PLEASE LET US KNOW ANY AWARDS OR RECOGNITIONS YOU’VE RECEIVED IN YOUR PROFESSIONAL CAREER:
Tyre Taylor Young Democrat of the Year Award, Young Democrats of North Carolina, 2018
Third Place, SCAD Sidewalk Art Contest, 2007
WHAT ARE YOUR HOBBIES OR INTERESTS?
The outdoors, planning and land use, volunteering on political campaigns, spending time putting together itineraries for my next trip (Germany, Austria, Poland, and the Czech Republic in 2021 hopefully), spending time with my husband and our dog, and finding the best nachos in Charlotte (Sabor is winning)
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE QUOTE THAT YOU STAND BY?
“If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair.” – Shirley Chisholm
WHERE DO YOU SEE YOURSELF IN 5 YEARS? 10 YEARS?
In 5 years, I’d like to see myself as the executive director of a non-profit organization helping create change here in Charlotte. In 10 years, I hope I’m still volunteering and able to make a difference on a micro level as well as a macro level.
CAN YOUR SHARE ONE THING THAT IS ON YOUR BUCKET LIST?
Making it to every continent (including Antarctica)
WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU USED YOUR PASSPORT?
In Jamaica for my honeymoon late last year; London before that.
WHAT IS A FUN FACT ABOUT YOURSELF THAT NO ONE KNOWS?
I was a surprise child and my family nickname is Boo.
WHO IS YOUR HERO?
Either my Dad or Elizabeth Warren
WHAT WAS THE LAST BOOK YOU READ?
Catch and Kill by Ronan Farrow
WHAT WAS THE LAST MOVIE YOU SAW?
In theaters Pre COVID: Parasite | On Netflix: The Irishman
WHAT WAS THE LAST CONCERT YOU SAW?
Patina Miller sings Nina Simone