What is the Activist Academy?

The Activist Academy leadership program is for individuals ready to take their activism to the n​ext level and grow as leaders in their communities.

This is a FREE in-person leadership program for individuals who want to learn about the climate justice movement and who are seeking to gain the skills to take action in combating climate change and fighting for environmental and social justice. Participants will gain fundamental campaign planning, community organizing skills, relationship building, and connection to peers and leaders with a shared interest.

Individuals with varying levels of experience in organizing and activism are welcome! Participants don’t need to be experienced activists or organizers to join. We welcome folks with a wide variety of experience and backgrounds.


For decades, we have relied on institutions and agencies to protect us from harm. To keep us safe. We soon learned that only a few were protected and that others, predominantly BIPOC communities, have suffered the most harm from systemic racist institutions in our country. This looks different in each community. It can look like a lack of services or community investments, racial injustices, and toxic, polluted communities.

The Sierra Club recognizes that we cannot build a just and sustainable movement with only those who have historically made up our base. For us, that means using Sierra Club resources to support those most impacted by environmental injustice and multiple systems of oppression. For this reason, the Activist Academy is looking for majority Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) and people from low-income and working-class backgrounds to take part in this program.

We value the knowledge and experiences BIPOC bring to our collective work as we look to ensure that our efforts reflect the needs of their communities.

Participants will have the autonomy to decide how to put their skills to practice. This could look like supporting movements and campaigns in the Sierra Club, partner organizations, their local communities to leading one of the future Activist Academy training programs and much, much more.

We are excited to welcome you, and co-create a home for your activism!

Angeles Chapter Activist Academy

Core Program Focus Areas

  • Environmental Social Justice and Climate Justice
  • Campaign Planning 101
  • Community Organizing and Community Engagement
  • Relationship Building and Connection to People and Environment


The Activist Academy leadership program is for individuals 18-35 years old who live in Los Angeles or Orange County.

If you are interested in getting more knowledge and leadership skills to get involved in your community and take action for Climate and Energy Justice, APPLY TODAY!

*Participants of the 2022 Activist Academy program will be awarded compensation for transportation and other program-related expenses to avoid any potential burdens participants may incur for their time and participation in this leadership program.

Activist Academy Course Curriculum + Schedule- Will Be updated.

Please note that this is a reference to the 2023 schedule.


Session #1:

Los Angeles State Historic Park

Saturday, January 14, 2023

9:00 am-  2:00 pm

[5 hours]

  • Establish a sense of shared purpose and a unifying story of us & now
  • Begin to build relationships and trust
  • Deepen understanding of our Guiding Principles and how we can embody them in practice
  • Clarify expectations of what we’ll be doing together, when and why

Session # 2:
What is Environmental and Climate Justice?

Sierra Club Office Koreatown

Tuesday, January 24,

5:30 pm -8:30 pm

[3 hours]

  • Get to a shared understanding of the meaning of key terms: Environmental social justice, climate justice, systems of oppression, collective liberation
  • Get to a shared understanding of the causes of climate change, its relationship to fossil fuels, energy, social and economic inequity
  • Dig into the Climate Justice Alliance Just Transition Framework as a model for addressing climate justice. Share examples of projects and campaigns participants have seen that touch on one or more of these needed innovations

Session #3:
Just Transition: Building a World Where All Thrive

Sierra Club Office Koreatown

Tuesday, February 7th,

5:30 pm -8:30 pm

[3 hours]

  • Dream together a world where we thrive and discuss the importance of envisioning and articulating our dreams for hopeful futures
  • Learn the term “just transition” and explore what that could mean for our communities, and how it could play a role in bringing about the visions we each hold
  • Review a few examples of just transition in LA

Session #4:
Healing in Community and Nature

Audubon at Debs Park

Saturday, February 25th, 

9:00-2:00 pm

[5 hours]

  • Participants will learn about the interconnenctedes of people and planet and how our relationship with nature offers opportunities for self and community healing in a time where we are constantly fighting racial and climate injustices.
    • Healing Trauma with Nature
    • Climate Anxiety Dance

Session #5:
Community Organizing & People Power

Sierra Club Office Koreatown

Tuesday, March 7th,

5:30 pm -8:30 pm

[3 hours]

  • Get to a shared understanding of the meaning of community organizing, and shared excitement about being/becoming organizers

Session #6:
Campaign Planning 101

Sierra Club Office Koreatown

Tuesday, March 21st,

5:30 pm -8:30 pm

[3 hours]

  • Identify the principles and practices of a successful organizing campaign
    • Jemez Principles
  • Understand the three types of power (power over, power with, and power within)
    • Power Mapping
  • Read stories about action-takers and identify which story describes a strategic campaign

Session #7:
Collective Decision Making in Activism and Generative Conflict

Saturday, April 8th,

9:00 am-2:00 pm

[5 hours]

  • Foster and understanding for what equitable decision making looks by introducing vocabulary (participation, trust, and transparency on teams)
  • Explore and practice a basic toolkit of interpersonal conflict skills
  • Deepen participant skills at navigating conflicts and how generative conflict involves diverse power dynamics: conflict work and equity-justice work are inextricable

Session #8:
Storytelling + Communications in Digital Organizing

Sierra Club Office Koreatown

Tuesday, April 18th,

5:30 pm -8:30 pm

[3 hours]

  • Identify why a narrative is vital to organizing work (how to develop an effective personal narrative and campaign narrative)
  • Explore the role online tools and tactics can play in our volunteer engagement efforts
  • Provide resources for planning the use of online resources as a part of your engagement

Session #9:

Los Angeles State Historic Park

Tuesday, May 2nd,

5:30 pm -8:30 pm

[3 hours]

  • Debrief our experiences during the Activist Academy program
  • Share out stories from our actions, successes, and challenges
  • Discuss and share ideas and opportunities for staying connected and continuing meaningful work on our own and together

Session #10:
Celebration and Culmination!

Location TBD

Friday, May 12th,

12:00-3:00 pm

[3 hours] 

  • Culmination of the participants of the first cohort Activist Academy Program!

If you have questions, we invite you to visit this Activist Academy FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) GoogleDoc.

Meet the Training Team!

Jo Irata - Angeles Activist Academy

Johanna J Iraheta (she/her/hers) Los Angeles, CA

I am a multidisciplinary community organizer who is passionate about humans most affected by inequity in particular in areas of food sovereignty, outdoor access and mental health. I have worked alongside many organizations, art initiatives and educational programs that support community organizing, mental health wellness and youth empowerment. Most recently, my work has been in community garden stewardship, green space advocacy, and nature inspired educational programs. With the Sierra Club, I volunteer for the Chapter's Wilderness Travel Course.

My hobbies include hiking great distances and heights to enjoy the sunrises and sunsets and learning about indigenous resilience, native plantstraditional use and medicine. I am excited to be amongst passionate leaders that creatively build the path to a sustainable and equitable future.

Organizations Johanna is affiliated with:

  • Parks and Garden Steward Manager / Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust
  • Co-founded and coordinated a youth-led leadership program in Los Angeles for We Rise LA, LACDMH
  • Program Coordinator for Critical Mass Dance Company.
  • Currently Land Steward for El Srenoc Community Land Trust
  • Volunteer for Sierra Club, Wilderness Travel Course (WTC)
  • Formally trained by Outward Bound Adventure’s Diverse Outdoor Learning Institute


Juana Torres Angeles Activist Academy

Juana Torres (she/her/hers) Encino, CA

I enjoy hiking, exploring different restaurants/cuisines and family time. I've committed to be a trainer because I've seen how other leadership training programs have made a difference in the lives of people and think it's time that the Sierra Club had something similar. I like to share my experience with fundraising and organizing and think they are valuable skill sets for others to have.

Organizations Juana is affiliated with:

  • Steering committee of the CA Interfaith Power and Light
  • Taught Faith and Ecology formation classes for many years with the Los Angeles Catholic Archdiocese
  • Currently working at ONEgeneration Senior Enrichment Center, where she manages the Environmental and Emissions Reduction Programs


Kenny Allen Angeles Activist Academy

Kenny Allen (he/him/his) Long Beach, CA

I'm an artist, activist, and entrepreneur. I studied the theater arts in college, and run a cooperative design firm now as my day-job. When I'm not working or in community meetings, I enjoy painting, linocut, sculpting, and anything creative as a hobby. I also love tending to the little balcony garden space and nurturing the plants I have at my apartment in Long Beach. In my life as an artist, I create worlds that do not yet exist, and that is the same basic task I take on as a community organizer and activist. I have committed to be a trainer for this program because I believe we can all go further together. I believe we each have the responsibility to teach and learn from others who are also committed to building more just futures. Solidarity is a verb!

Organizations Kenny is affiliated with:

  • The Sunrise Movement
  • Democratic Socialists of America, Leadership Long Beach.


Angeles Activist Academy Raj Patel

Raj Patel (he/him/his) Los Angeles, CA

I was born and raised in the San Fernando Valley and currently living in the Crenshaw area. When I find the time, I enjoy biking, indoor rock climbing, hiking, and gardening. But mostly I'm a full-time stay at home dad chasing and entertaining our 2.5 yr old daughter. I love taking her out on the e-bike and Metro to show her various parts of the city.

The interconnectedness of the world has never been more apparent and the past few years for me have been filled with growth, mindfulness, and a lot of learning. As we're witnessing, the current systems in place are not sustainable for people or the planet. There's a lot of work to be done and nothing changes overnight, but we know that a lasting impact can be made with a collective, focused energy from the people.

That's why I'm so excited for this leadership training. It's an incredible opportunity to share the skills needed to effectively take action in your communities and grow as leaders. And it's not just a one way street - I think we'll all learn a lot from each other.

Organizations Raj is affiliated with:

  • Sierra Club's Angeles Chapter since 2018. Currently, serving on the Executive Committee of the Central Group as the Co-chair of the Sustainability Committee.
  • Raj is also a former student and current staff member in the Sierra Club's Wilderness Travel Course (WTC)


Meet the Inagural Cohort of the Activist Academy!