In 2010 Caroline Lewis with support from Dr. F. Lynn Leverett, and others, founded The CLEO Institute, a 501(C)(3) nonprofit, nonpartisan organization focused on climate education, engagement, & advocacy. CLEO stands for Climate Leadership Engagement Opportunities.
BIO I RESUME
As the Founder of The CLEO Institute, Caroline promotes climate literacy, climate justice, and support for bold action. She is currently CLEO’s Senior Advisor, working with a stellar team to advance climate action as the urgent imperative it is.
Her board positions and service roles include the National Environmental Education Advisory Council; American Public Garden Association; Miami-Dade Executive Board for Science Curriculum & Instruction; the White House Summits on Climate and Energy and Women & the Environment; the Conservation Fund’s Advisory Panel on Children and nature; Congressman Curbelo’s Climate Advisory Team, VAI-Changing The Current Advisory Council, Miami-Dade County Living With Water Committee, and others.
In 2013, Caroline Lewis was nationally recognized as a White House Climate Resilience Champion of Change. In 2017, she was a featured speaker at the Miami March for Science and The People’s Climate March, Miami, and the Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce recognized her as a Global Change Maker. In 2018, Caroline was named by Time Magazine as one of 31 individuals making a difference in the South. And, in 2019, she was featured in National Geographic’s Documentary: From Paris to Pittsburg.
Caroline knew that engaging kids needed to be a key component of CLEO. Thus she helped launch the Climate and Me summer program in Liberty City with Paulett Richards and formalized CLEO Councils in Schools, known today as our Climate Resilient Schools program.
Our Climate Resilient Schools program is teaching and mobilizing thousands of students across and beyond Miami-Dade county (the 4th largest school district in the United States) to become resilient, articulate, and passionate about civic engagement in support of science, impacts, and solutions to the climate crisis. Our program also includes our Teachers Network, which helps teachers K-12 across Florida incorporate climate into their curriculum regardless of the subject they teach.
Caroline also launched the CLEO Youth Task Force, known today as our GenCLEO Youth Network. This statewide network of high school and college students empowers youth to become climate leaders in their communities. As a result, they have been instrumental in passing and protecting key climate initiatives across the state, including passing a Climate Emergency Declaration in eight municipalities.
And as my leadership is growing I still call you with questions and you still take have time and patience with me. I’m so grateful for you Ms. Caroline! Your leadership and work is so impactful and Inspiring. Thank you for always believing in our communities and our collective resiliency."
Caroline was one of the first people to bring the social justice groups into the climate conversation, bridging the gap between climate science and social justice. Caroline conducted listening sessions, town halls, and climate presentations and helped CLEO become a trusted partner in underserved communities.
In 2015 Caroline was a founding member of The Miami Climate Alliance (MCA), and in 2017, Caroline was a key figure in ensuring that RCAP 2.0 had a social justice equity lens. Waking up the sleeping giants who live and work in frontline communities has been pivotal in catalyzing the climate justice movement in Florida.
The historic divestment of women, especially women of color, results in exposing women to higher risks and greater burdens from the impacts of climate change. This story was no different when Miami faced Hurricane Irma in 2017. CLEO’s Empowering Resilient Women was created in its aftermath as a response to the visible gaps that left marginalized communities under-represented and under-supported in emergency preparedness. Women build community cohesion by often playing the role of first responders and caretakers at home. In this way, when women are impacted by the climate crisis, whether through extreme heat, intensified hurricanes, or asthma exacerbated by air pollution… our communities feel the ripple effects.
Caroline understood she could not carry the climate message alone. She needed climate ambassadors to help carry her message and amplify CLEO’s mission, so she developed the CLEO Speakers Network in 2012 in tandem with the Empowering Capable Climate Communicators Symposium, spearheaded by University of Miami’s Dr. Hal Wanless. This program helps people become confident climate communicators. Today it is a virtual program open to people all across Florida. Having trained thousands of people to become climate speakers in their communities, the ripple effect of this program is endless.
As CLEO’s scope of work, funding, and impact grew, Caroline saw the need to bring in fresh leadership to this ever-growing nonprofit. We were poised to scale beyond South East Florida, thus in 2018, Caroline hired Yoca Arditi-Rocha to become CLEO’s new Executive Director and formalized CLEO’s leadership team. With a fresh new look, CLEO rebranded to focus on climate solutions and expand programming. Caroline continuess at CLEO as the Founder and Senior Advisor.
In 2019, with the help of the VoLo Foundation, The CLEO Institute became a statewide organization with its HQ in Miami, and offices in Orlando, Tampa, and Tallahassee.