Youth-Powered Climate Justice – April 25 2024

Youth-Powered Climate Justice
with Our Children’s Trust

Thursday, April 25
12:00 noon ET
A Virtual Meeting

Image courtesy of Our Children’s Trust

Pictured above are the youth plaintiffs in seven cases of Our Children’s Trust:  
Held v. State of Montana, Julianna v. United States, Natalie R v. State of Utah, Navahine F. v. HDOT,

Layla H. v. Commonwealth of VA, Florida Petition for Rulemaking, and La Rose v. His Majesty the King (Canada).
Register Here

Join Biodiversity for a Livable Climate and the Ocean River Institute for a lively discussion of the practice and power of youth activism on Thursday, April 25, 2024, at 12:00 noon ET on Zoom.

Mat dos Santos and Laura Gehrke of Our Children’s Trust will talk with Rob Moir of Ocean River Institute about how 16 youth plaintiffs successfully sued the state of Montana to protect their equal rights to a healthy environment, life, dignity, and freedom. At the core of the suit was the claim that Montana’s state government continues to promote and support fossil fuel extraction and burning, expanding the climate crisis and harming the youth plaintiffs.

Held v. State of Montana is the country’s first-ever children’s constitutional climate case to go to trial. The First Judicial District Court of Montana ruled wholly in favor of the youth plaintiffs, declaring that the state violated the youths’ constitutional rights, including their rights to equal protection, dignity, liberty, health and safety, and public trust, which are all predicated on their right to a clean and healthful environment.

Louise Mitchell of Biodiversity for a Livable Climate will lead the question-and-answer discussion at the end of this interview. Participants are invited to submit questions in advance when registering.

This is a virtual event. To get tickets, click on the registration button below.

Register Here


Mat dos Santos, Co-Executive Director & General Counsel, Our Children’s Trust

As an attorney, Mat dos Santos has litigated high-profile cases on behalf of historically oppressed communities and Fortune 500 companies.  At Our Children’s Trust, they represent the youth in seven cases against state and federal governments in the U.S. and Canada. Additionally, Mat leads the organization’s legal compliance and risk management and oversees finance, operations, and development.

Prior to Our Children’s Trust, Mat was the legal director of the ACLU of Oregon. They worked on a variety of civil rights issues, including freedom of speech, student’s rights, voting rights, LGBTQ+ rights, immigration, and criminal justice reform.

Mat has received several awards and much recognition for their work, including “Best LGBT Lawyer Under 40” by the National LGBT Bar Association (2016), the Award of Merit from the Oregon Gay and Lesbian Lawyers Association (2017), Richard M. Ginsburg Outstanding Leadership for Immigrant Rights Award from the American Immigrant Lawyers Association of Oregon (2017), the Aguila Award from Latino Network in recognition of extraordinary contributions and commitment to ensuring a thriving Latinx community in Oregon (2018), and an Angel Award from California Lawyer in 2008 for their deep commitment to pro bono work relating to a precedent-setting case brought on behalf of transgender prisoners seeking gender-affirming care in Idaho’s Department of Corrections.

Mat dos Santos received a JD from Cornell Law School and a BS in Biology from UC Irvine. Before law school, Mat was a biologist and conducted environmental impact assessments and endangered species surveys for power clients throughout the west.

Laura Gehrke, Events Manager, Our Children’s Trust

Laura is an agent of change in the climate sector, specializing in facilitating inclusive, thought-provoking education and engagement. She uses her critical thinking, creative, and organizational skills at Our Children’s Trust by planning, promoting, and facilitating events to educate and engage the community in youth-led efforts for climate litigation. Together with others on her team, Laura successfully engaged community support for the 16 youths who sued the State of Montana for their rights to a clean and healthful environment. She is currently engaging in community support in other regions throughout the U.S.

Laura has also worked in the education, health care, business, and research sectors by managing events for Lewis and Clark College, Oregon Primary Care Association, Membership Services, Association of Institutional Research, Union Productions, and the United Way of the Big Bend.

Laura Gehrke earned a B.S. in Hospitality Management and Business Administration from Florida State University and later received the Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) designation.  Laura is passionate about sustainability and increasing awareness of the vulnerability of island nations due to the climate crisis.


Rob Moir, President and Executive Director, Ocean River Institute

Rob Moir is an educator, scientist, and activist with a proven history of institutional management and marine policy success. Rob has been a leader of citizen science and efforts to clean up Salem Sound and Boston Harbor as president of the advocacy organizations Salem Sound Harbor Monitors, Salem Sound 2000, and later Save the Harbor/Save the Bay, and through his appointment by the Secretary of Interior to the Boston Harbor Islands Partnership.

Rob founded the Ocean River Institute in 2007 to protect the commons. He was Curator of Natural History at the Peabody Essex Museum, founder of the first bioregional management collaborative organization, Salem Sound Coastwatch, established The James Baldwin Scholars Program at Hampshire College where he worked as a major gifts officer, Curator of Education at the New England Aquarium, Executive Director of the Discovery Museums in Acton, Massachusetts, and President of the National Marine Educators Association.

Rob is the recipient of several awards, including the Albert Nelson Marquis Who’s Who Lifetime Achievement Award, several Distinguished Worldwide Humanitarian Awards, “Top 101 Industry Experts” and Professional of the Year by Who’s Who Publishers (2015, 2014, 2011), a Switzer Environmental Fellowship from the Robert & Patricia Switzer Foundation, and the James Centorino Award for Distinguished Performance in Marine Education by the National Marine Educators Association. He was also the first assistant scientist at the Sea Education Association for multiple voyages of the R.V. Westward.

Rob Moir has a Ph.D. in Environmental Studies, a Masters of Science and Teaching from Antioch New England Graduate School in Keene, New Hampshire, a B.A. from Hampshire College, and certificates of studies from the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole and the USC Wrigley Institute on Catalina Island.

Louise Mitchell, Outreach Programs Manager, Biodiversity for a Livable Climate

Louise has advocated for environmental health throughout her career as the sustainable food systems specialist with Climate Health Solutions, as a physical therapist in hospitals throughout Baltimore, Maryland, and by promoting conferences for non-profits on nutrition, integrative medicine, and sustainable agriculture.

Louise worked for close to ten years as the sustainable foods program manager at Maryland Hospitals for a Healthy Environment within the University of Maryland School of Nursing and School of Medicine. She was also the regional organizer for the Healthy Food in Health Care program with Health Care Without Harm. She worked with food service directors, chefs and dietitians at hospitals throughout Maryland and the Mid-Atlantic region to increase their local sustainable food purchases and launch onsite farmers markets, CSAs, gardens and sustainable operations.

Over twenty years ago, Louise helped start New Day Farms, which focused on growing mineral-rich food by restoring the minerals and microbes back into the soil. She distributed the food to high-end restaurants, hotels and regional distributors from New York to Washington, D.C.

Louise Mitchell is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and Notre Dame of Maryland University. She lives in Maryland and in Toronto, Canada.



For questions about this event, please contact us at

We look forward to seeing you there.