Shiney-Ajay, 25, is set to be formally announced as the new leader of the youth climate organization on Wednesday.
She joined the Sunrise Movement at age 19, first as a volunteer and later as a staffer. Shiney-Ajay grew up in Minnesota but said she was drawn to the climate issue after going to Southern India, where her family is from.
“Year-after-year going back I see Delhi get hit by heat waves…and my home state of Kerala facing floods. It just didn’t feel like a future crisis to me. It felt like something that I was living through in my backyard,” she said.
Under her leadership, Shiney-Ajay said, the group will focus on combining national campaigning with local advocacy.
“A lot of our local groups have been winning legislation around the country and I feel really excited to be able to lean into our strengths while also making sure that we’re making advancing on the state and local level,” Shiney-Ajay said, citing campaigns on issues like transit and schools.
On the national front, the Sunrise Movement will continue to push for the declaration of a national climate emergency.
Other policies where they plan to focus advocacy are “expansive” use of the Defense Production Act, an end to new oil and gas leasing and full-funding for President Biden’s new
Asked whether the group will support Biden in next year’s election, Shiney-Ajay said it depends on his policies.
“We really need to wait and see what Biden is able to do in the next in the next year,” she said.
She also said there have been “good steps” but also that “there’s a lot that the administration could keep doing and needs to do in order to keep winning the youth climate vote.”