MiCAN is thrilled to showcase this year's Michigan Climate Champion Award winners, thanks to generous support from the Colina Foundation. The awards, based off of community nominations, honor the dedicated professionals, activists, and young people doing the hard work of moving Michigan toward a just and sustainable future. For our 2023 edition we elected the theme "Ending the Era of Fossil Fuels" – the first, most logical step in addressing the climate crisis. We applaud the efforts of these dedicated individuals to address the source of the crisis in our state (and beyond) head-on!
Climate Champion Award
Recognizes a professional working for an organization, a municipality, or business in Michigan
Congratulations, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel!
We are honored to announce our professional championing undeniably exceptional work for communities across the Great Lakes State, Attorney General Dana Nessel. A graduate of the University of Michigan and Wayne State University Law School, and former criminal prosecutor and civil rights attorney, Nessel was sworn in as Michigan’s 54th Attorney General on January 1, 2019. In the years since, her core initiatives have been fashioned in the image of her promise to Michigan’s residents: to give the Department of Attorney General back to the people that it serves.
Perhaps nowhere has this been more apparent than in her efforts to hold Enbridge Energy Co. accountable, and debunk its claims that better alternatives to the Line 5 pipelines are not already available — specifically, in providing a voice for Michigan's people through her brief in support of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa in its lawsuit against the oil giant. Nessel has also protected residents’ interests by saving ratepayers more than $2.4 billion in unfair utility rate increases, bringing relief through litigation to communities impacted by PFAS “forever chemicals,” and reviving the department’s environmental crimes unit to make full use of its criminal prosecuting authority in defense of the State’s natural resources.
Learn more about AG Nessel and the Michigan Department of Attorney General’s ongoing work online at Michigan.gov/AG.
Climate Action Award
Recognizes a person doing exceptional work as a volunteer on behalf of an organization(s)
Congratulations, Stephanie Johnson!
Stephanie, a Detroiter, became aware of energy inequalities in 2016 when she went into collections because of a DTE bill after losing her job. Fast forward to a few years later, and she was a dedicated activist in Soulardarity's "Work for Me DTE" campaign promoting affordability, health, community ownership, and good jobs through local clean energy. Stephanie's commitment to bringing solutions to those affected and advocating for their voices in influential spaces has been unwavering, as she has courageously lent her own personal narrative as official testimony in legal interventions with the Michigan Public Service Commission and more. Her contributions were instrumental in challenging DTE's extractive Prepay Program and Rate Hike proposals, leading to significant victories for ratepayers.
During her tenure as a fellow for the Soulardarity Community Organizing Collaborative (SCOC), Stephanie's efforts in community outreach for the Communities LEAP initiative, a collaboration with the Department of Energy granted to the city, played a pivotal role in securing invaluable technical assistance for Highland Park, which will be crucial in steering the community towards a sustainable, renewable energy future. Last but not least, Stephanie is actively building local energy resiliency by introducing a toolkit of resources for launching a community-owned backup power supply in Southeast Michigan neighborhoods.
Stephanie has a B.A. from the University of Detroit and a Masters in Training and Development from Oakland University. She now serves as the Vice-chair on the Polar Bear Sustainable Energy (PBSE) Co-op board, which she joined during the pandemic with a personal goal of contributing and participating in Energy Democracy. Her professional experience ranges from IT to program management.
Young Climate Leader Award
Recognizes a student or youth doing exceptional work as a volunteer or individual
Congratulations, Mia Breznau!
Mia Breznau is a high school senior from Kalamazoo. For the last two years, she’s been a member of the Ardea Youth Climate Coalition, a high school advocacy group through the Kalamazoo Nature Center. She also co-founded National Youth for the Climate Emergency (NYCE), which serves to amplify youth climate work across the country. She is strongly passionate about climate activism, specifically youth engagement, climate education, clean energy, and regenerative agriculture. This year, she’s organized an anti-fossil-fuel FFF protest, testified before State Congress in support of standardized climate curriculums, lobbied extensively for the recently enacted Clean Energy Future Plan, and much more! After graduation, she plans to pursue a BS degree in environmental or climate science before pursuing a Ph.D., with the end goal of becoming an academic researcher in the field of coral paleoclimatology. Her ultimate goal is to preserve pristine nature, and she hopes to train the next generation of environmental advocates to do the same.