Intern Spotlight: Denise Aparicio & Estela Montiel

Climate Resolve offers numerous year-round internship opportunities to students interested in climate change, sustainability, public policy, advocacy, and community outreach. We’d like to introduce you to them, their work with us, and how they’ve helped make Los Angeles a stronger and more sustainable city in the face of climate change.

When Climate Resolve’s Natalie Hernandez (Associate Director, Climate Planning & Resilience) spoke on the topics of climate adaptation and mitigation at UC Berkeley’s Latinxs and the Environment seminar in April 2020, she met two impressive internship candidates, Denise Aparicio and Estela Montiel. Here is a little more about them:

Denise Aparicio, UC Berkeley ’23


I was born and raised in South Central LA by immigrant parents. I attended a charter 6-12 school near Downtown LA where my interest in environmental studies sprouted. A month after graduating high school, I moved to the bay area where I would attend the University of California Berkeley. This is where I first heard of the term “environmental racism” despite experiencing it my whole life through my proximity to fracking and from going to an all minority school directly under a freeway for 6 years. I am now currently a second-year undergraduate student with an intended major in Society and Environment and a minor in City Planning.

How did I get here:

In my first semester at Cal, I noticed a flyer promoting a seminar called “Latinxs and the Environment.” This immediately caught my attention because I was attending a huge public school with little representation for people of color. Upon joining this seminar, I immediately felt connected with everyone there and found my support system. Through this seminar, we were introduced to Natalie Hernandez and her experience as a Latina working at a nonprofit focusing on climate change. Under Natalie’s supervision, I would become one of two interns at Climate Resolve later on in the summer of 2020. My schoolmate Estela Montiel and I would sign on to work on the Climate Vulnerability Assessment (CVA) Stakeholder Engagement Plan. 

My experience at Climate Resolve:

Throughout my time at Climate Resolve, most of my work involved creating a draft for the Stakeholder Engagement Plan for the CVA. I had to learn the background information about the CVA, which is something that I would have never reviewed if it weren’t for Climate Resolve. Creating a Stakeholder Engagement Plan along with Stakeholder Mapping are skills I can truly say I’m comfortable doing now. Estela and I also attended multiple conferences and were able to be part of a weekly group with staff focused on virtual engagement techniques/social media. 

Under Natalie and Climate Resolve, I got to dip my toes into the non-profit world and got to experience, for 6 weeks, the dedication, resilience, and passion everyone in this organization has for creating change. It’s rewarding to see a blank document become official and being a part of that planning process for a much bigger project. This has truly been a life-changing experience and now I can say I know what to expect from a workplace in the future.

Estela Montiel, UC Berkeley ’20


Although I was born in Durango, Mexico, my parents brought my sister and I to the United States in 2001. Since then, we’ve lived in Westlake–a small neighborhood next to downtown Los Angeles. I graduated from UC Berkeley this past spring with a B.S. in Conservation and Resource Studies and now intend to continue exploring the environmental field and future in building sustainable and just communities. I am also currently preparing to apply for graduate schools while intending to focus on sustainability and environmental justice.

How I got here:

While at Berkeley, I became involved with a seminar and group called the Latinxs and the Environment seminar. After a year with the initiative, I became an intern as well as one of the two co-leaders of the seminar. It was through this experience that I was able to do a summer internship with a nonprofit organization that had previously presented to the seminar. When I found out the organization was Climate Resolve, I was ecstatic as I had been wanting to know more about downtown LA based non-profits.

My experience at Climate Resolve:

While interning at Climate Resolve, my first task was to attend California’s first Online Environmental Engagement Conference and the Climate Resolve  peer learning group sessions. We were also tasked with organizing the notes in a concise, neat way for the other individuals in the organization to learn from as well. This task in itself was already rewarding because of the new formatting techniques I learned from our supervisor Natalie.

However, our primary task was to aid Climate Resolve in getting a head start on their role in the LA County Climate Vulnerability Assessment project. We helped draft a stakeholder engagement plan according to the agreements and documents shared with us and included a stakeholder mapping template. As someone who barely knew what a ‘stakeholder’ was 6 weeks ago, I am now delighted to have been a part of that process. Although I would have been fine spending this internship attending staff meetings and taking notes, to have actually been able to participate in project planning was a priceless experience.


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