Emmaline Giles

Emmaline is a nonprofit professional and social justice organizer with seven years of experience in public service and leadership roles. She has a diverse skill set in community outreach, event planning, donor relations, project management, digital and print marketing, and grant management and writing. She was born in Los Angeles, California to Canadian and Burmese migrant parents, she is a proud second generation mixed-Asian American, and is passionate about Environmental Justice (EJ) policy reform. 

In her most recent employment, Emmaline served as a Lead EJ Community Organizer for Metropolitan Congregations United in St. Louis, Missouri, a grassroots nonprofit that supports the organization of congregations around social justice issues to impact local policy. She focused on building a base of community faith leaders to organize the first local, EJ-centered campaign to demand for policy change for low-income communities of color who are disproportionately impacted by environmental racism. Within 11-months, she expanded the program by securing funding for two new paid organizers, to build a base of thirty local congregations, and to launch two pilot community-participatory research programs with local partner organizations around energy efficiency and air quality monitoring. On several counts, she presented her work to fellow non-profit professionals, elected officials, students, funders, policymakers, community leaders, and to local media outlets. 

Prior to organizing, Emmaline served as an Americorps VISTA on sustainable and equitable food initiatives in city and state policy at the Missouri Coalition for the Environment, a state-wide environmental advocacy organization. Notably, in an effort to address vacancy from disinvestment and food injustice, Emmaline drafted and helped to pass a city-partnered urban agriculture pilot program in 2019 with The Land Reutilization Authority. This program allows local residents to buy vacant land to raise crops or animals at two-thirds or less of market value. 

Her work in EJ began during her undergraduate career at the University of California, Berkeley, where she earned her Bachelor’s degree in International Development Studies and minored in Peace and Conflict Studies. She interned with the grassroots organization, Asian Pacific Environmental Network, where she co-wrote a published research paper on the history of EJ organizing among local Asian American Pacific Islanders. This experience exposed her to the power of community-based organizing to effect systems change via policy reform. 

Currently, Emmaline is an active member in the St. Louis community by serving on the Executive Committee of the Missouri Chapter of the Sierra Club, a member-supported environmental organization, which seeks to influence public policy through public education and grass-roots political action. She also serves as Advisory Council Chair of Community First Plus+, an intersectional environmental organization committed to regenerative community development, sustainable living, and raising awareness of the environmental racism that impacts Black, Brown, and people from low-income communities in St. Louis, MO. 

Through the National Urban Fellows program, Emmaline aims to continue challenging herself to grow into a powerful leader and change agent by further developing her analytical and managerial skills. Her goal is to advance her career in public service and develop community-led policy reform processes. The 

Policy Management program will enable her to learn more about how to implement and evaluate policies, projects, and programs that address the root of social and racial injustices throughout low-income communities.