Capita and the Aspen Institute Launch the First Ever US Early Years Climate Action Task Force

June 1, 2022

The Task Force will meet over the next year, with the Early Years Climate Action Plan due to be published in 2023.

Contact: Michael Bettis
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Clarke Williams
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June 1, 2022 —
Today, Capita and the Aspen Institute have announced the launch of the
Early Years Climate Action Task Force. The Task Force will be co-chaired by Diana Rauner, former First Lady of Illinois and President of Start Early, and Antwanye Ford, President and CEO, Enlightened, Inc. and Chair, District of Columbia Workforce Investment Council.

The Task Force will draft the first ever Early Years Climate Action Plan for the US. Its recommendations will explore how the country can support young children, ages 0 to 8, to flourish despite facing the impacts of climate change. The Task Force will identify best practices for government, child-serving systems, businesses, not-for-profits, and philanthropy to mitigate, adapt, and respond to climate change as it relates to young children. It will also develop policy frameworks for implementation at all levels of government. 

The Task Force will hold a series of listening sessions, highlighting the particular vulnerabilities of young children to climate change and opportunities for the early years sector to take action. It will hear from parents and guardians, children, caregivers, pediatric health care providers, subject matter experts, and grassroots advocates. The Task Force’s work will also highlight the experiences of Indigenous and Native communities, people of color, those on low-incomes, and those living in particularly climate-vulnerable communities.

“Climate change is arguably the biggest threat to the earliest years of child development of this millennium,” said Joe Waters, CEO of Capita. “It is imperiling our children’s health, security, and future. Climate change is already having long-term impacts on child health, development, and flourishing whether it be due to toxic stress or destruction of physical care environments. The Task Force brings together experts from across a range of disciplines and sectors, from early childhood education and pediatrics to child welfare organizations and the climate movement, all who have a stake in helping to create a better future for our youngest.”

“Young children have the most at stake in our fight against the climate crisis and every sector has a role to play in advancing climate solutions,” said Dan Porterfield, President and CEO of the Aspen Institute. “The early years sector is critical to building resilient systems where children can thrive, and it’s inspiring that the Early Years Climate Action Task Force will create a framework to galvanize this sector for action—helping to ensure a more sustainable, healthy, and equitable future for all.”

The Task Force will meet over the next year, with the Early Years Climate Action Plan due to be published in 2023.  While its focus will predominantly be on the US, the objective is also to share recommendations that can be adapted by other countries and international organizations. The Task Force builds on the work of the Aspen Institute’s K12 Climate Action, which created an action plan for the K through 12 education sector to advance climate solutions. 

The Early Years Climate Action Task Force Members:

Leah Austin, President & CEO, National Black Child Development Institute

Elizabeth Bechard, Senior Policy Analyst, Moms Clean Air Force & Author, Parenting in a Changing Climate

Claudia Benitez-Nelson, Associate Dean & Professor of Marine Studies, University of South Carolina & leader, Science Moms

Miriam Calderon, Chief Policy Officer, Zero To Three

Felicia DeHaney, Director of Program & Strategy, W.K. Kellogg Foundation

Louis Finney, Jr., Board President, National Association of Family Child Care & CEO, Smart Start of Forsyth County (NC)

Antwanye Ford, President & CEO, Enlightened, Inc. & Chair, District of Columbia Workforce Investment Council

Barry Ford, President & CEO, Council for a Strong America

Lynette Fraga, CEO, Child Care Aware of America

Angie Garling, Vice President of Early Care & Education, Low Income Investment Fund

Andrew Garner, Professor of Pediatrics, Schubert Center for Child Studies, Case Western Reserve University

Walter Gilliam, Professor of Psychiatry & Psychology & Director, Edward Zigler Center in Child Development and Social Policy, Yale University

Michelle Kang, CEO, National Association for the Education of Young Children 

Kahlil Kettering, Bezos Earth Fund Project Director, The Nature Conservancy

Jennifer McClellan, State Senator, Commonwealth of Virginia (District 9)

Shantel Meek, Founding Director, The Children’s Equity Project, Arizona State University

Alicia Mousseau, Vice President, Oglala Sioux Tribe

Diana Rauner, President, Start Early & Former First Lady of Illinois 

Melissa Rooker, Executive Director, Kansas Children’s Cabinet & Trust Fund, & former member, Kansas House of Representatives

Patricia Sullivan-Steward, Parent Leader, Darlington County (SC) First Steps

Derek Walker, Vice President of U.S. Climate, Environmental Defense Fund


About Capita

Launched in 2018, Capita is a think tank that explores how the great cultural and social transformations of our day affect young children. We seek to tackle the interrelated problems that prevent us from taking a holistic and effective approach to meeting the needs of children and families, particularly those furthest from opportunity.

Capita is the incubating partner of the Childhood Climate Fund, an in-development global philanthropic vehicle focused on safeguarding childhood and improving human flourishing by investing in new ideas, new movements, and new social infrastructure at the intersection of early childhood and climate change. |

About the Aspen Institute

The Aspen Institute is a global nonprofit organization committed to realizing a free, just, and equitable society. Founded in 1949, the Institute drives change through dialogue, leadership, and action to help solve the most important challenges facing the United States and the world. Headquartered in Washington, DC, the Institute has a campus in Aspen, Colorado, and an international network of partners. Learn more at

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