“If you want to get something done, ask a mom.” This is one of the guiding principles behind the work of Mothers Out Front, a grassroots organization founded by Kelsey Wirth AB ’91 that mobilizes moms—and anyone else who would like to join—to take action in the climate crisis. “Moms know how to get things done, even in the midst of our busy lives,” says Wirth. “We’re the ones on the PTA, the ones engaged in community service, and we have incredibly strong networks.”

While Wirth grew up in a family that was embedded in climate work, it wasn’t until she became a mother that she experienced the crisis on a visceral level. After reading a book on coral reefs to her daughter, a toddler at the time, it dawned on Wirth that her child would not likely see a living reef in her lifetime. “It was a horrifying realization that we were transforming the planet in terrible ways—and that our inability to address the climate crisis was going to define the lives of my children.” Headshot of Kelsey Wirth AB '91

Despair—and thinking she couldn’t be the only mother who felt this way—quickly turned into action. She reached out to Marshall Ganz, now the Rita E. Hauser Senior Lecturer in Leadership, Organizing, and Civil Society at Harvard Kennedy School. “I had to figure out how to equip moms with what they needed to make meaningful change happen,” says Wirth. “My meeting with Ganz led me to understand that organizing is something anybody can do—it’s a skill set that can be learned and taught.” 

Today, Mothers Out Front teams across the country are harnessing the power of collective action to stop proposed fossil fuel infrastructure, spur the transition to renewable energy, and work to electrify buildings, homes, and school buses to protect their children’s health. “It’s a very lonely proposition to be worrying about your children, so we create community,” says Wirth. “It’s the commitment we make to each other that sustains the work over time.”

Despite the polarization at the federal level, Wirth finds inspiration in what she sees happening locally on the ground by people who are mobilizing change. “Every person, no matter where they are, has a role to play. It’s the only way we are going to create the world we want for our kids.”

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