Brower Youth Awards

About Us

Since 2000, the New Leaders Initiative program has provided cutting edge and innovative youth programming across the United States. The goal of all New Leaders Initiative programming is to engage, grow and support environmental and social justice youth activists so that they can reach the highest version of themselves. This goal is met by providing local and national programming to build the capacity of young emerging activists. Our youth programming includes fellowships, micro grants, media training, mentorship, visioning, coaching and leadership development, professional skill building, webinars,  networking events, workshops, community partnerships, and providing access to resources and relationships to lead and sustain effective campaigns and projects.  

The flagship event of the New Leaders Initiative is the Brower Youth Awards, which has recognized outstanding youth leaders who are making strides in the environmental movement. The public ceremony and national award is hosted by the New Leaders Initiative and presented by Earth Island Institute.

The Brower Youth Awards has recognized 123 outstanding, emerging youth leaders, representing accomplishments across the full spectrum of the environmental movement. Each year, six young people based in North America are awarded a cash prize of 3,000 dollars. On the night of the award ceremony, before an audience of 800 people at the historic War Memorial Herbst Theatre in San Francisco, the winners’ inspiring stories are told in short documentary videos. They also deliver an acceptance speech about their project or campaigninspiring environmental activism amongst the audience. Leading up to the award ceremony, the New Leaders Initiative provides a week long forum that includes mentorship, training, visioning, networking, career coaching to build skills and capacity to effect change. Lastly, we have a deep commitment to elevating voices from all different socio-economic and culturally diverse backgrounds so that they can move forward as successful innovators and activists. Our winners join a growing movement of young awardees who are recognized for their sustainable projects, innovative ideas, and informed analyses. 

Who We Are


Director of New Leaders Initiative

Mona Shomali has been working at the intersection of environmental policy and social justice for over 15 years. As an adjunct faculty, she has taught international environmental policy and environmental justice courses at The New School, Pace University and New York University. She has also taught an ecology course at the New York Botanical Garden.

In addition to academia, Mona has worked as a researcher for the case Sarayaku vs. Ecuador  in the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, a policy analyst for an NGO that lobbied the United Nations on behalf of small island states who face sea level rise, and a contributor for a World Bank Report on Climate change and water distribution in Senegal. When it comes to environmental and social justice youth leadership, Mona believes it is vital to include and represent voices from all different socio-economic and cultural backgrounds.

Contact Mona to learn about the Brower Youth Awards as well as our local and national year-round programming, fellowship, high school essay contests, micro grant opportunities and local Bay Area events at

Program Coordinator

Susannah Lee graduated from UC Berkeley in 2017 with a Bachelor’s degree in Molecular Environmental Biology and a minor in Geospatial Information Science and Technology. Before joining Earth Island, she spent time in Iceland working on a project exploring the potential of hydropower and geothermal renewable energy production for a small town near Reykjavík.

As a student, Susannah conducted a research project investigating the potential for bioremediation of a wetland site contaminated by hydrocarbon pollution. She also contributed to a study of urban agro-biodiversity in East Bay community gardens and the connection between food security and food traditions in the surrounding areas. She hopes to continue developing her passion for environmental justice by becoming more involved in the local issues facing her community.

Email with inquiries about our local high school programming, Brower Youth Award alumni services, and media requests.