Catherine Baltazar was born and raised in the concrete jungle of Los Angeles and is currently residing in the Westlake neighborhood she grew up in. She graduated from Wellesley College in May 2016 with a B.A. in Environmental Studies as well as Cinema and Media Studies. As a photojournalist, Catherine combined her passion for environmental advocacy with that of photography and created her own photojournalism project documenting South East Asian communities dealing firsthand with the impacts of climate change. Her project focused on communities led by women and environmental migration.
Upon graduating from Wellesley, Catherine received a CivicSpark Fellowship, where she worked at the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. There she worked on developing an Urban Heat Island Reduction Plan for the County which focused on strategic tree planting, “green space” development and planning, implementation of “cool roof” ordinances and the piloting of cool and permeable pavement projects. This experience allowed her to approach environmental justice from a local government perspective.
Following her fellowship, Catherine transitioned to working with the local nonprofit, Catalyst San Gabriel Valley, to support the “Life is Better with Trees” project funded by LA County Supervisor Hilda Solis’s office. The project had a goal of planting 2,000 trees over the course of two years in the East Los Angeles, Bassett and Walnut Park unincorporated communities. At Catalyst SGV, Catherine was able to collaborate with various LAUSD schools and the San Gabriel Conservation Corps to develop a community engagement strategy centered around environmental education and public health.
During the pandemic, Catherine also spent time working as a bicycle messenger, where she became part of the local Los Angeles bicycle community and gained hands-on experience about the transportation needs of local cyclists.
She strongly believes that climate adaptation and mitigation strategies go hand in hand with community knowledge and hopes to continue working on the ground with communities to advocate for local innovative climate solutions.