Meet Molly from Moms Clean Air Force
At UpChoose we are huge fans of the work of Moms Clean Air Force, an organization leveraging the power of motherhood and parenting to advocate for a more sustainable world for our children and planet.
What’s your name? Any nickname?
I’m Molly – I have a few nicknames but my favorite is Mommy. My teenage kids still call me that.
Live in? Grew up in?
I live in DC, where I’ve been for close to 18 years. I was born and raised in New York City.
You’re the mom of...
…my three favorite people on Earth: Elka, Isaiah, and Silas.
Molly is a mom, a public health nerd, and a climate change activist.
What made you want to devote your career to addressing climate change? Was there an “aha” moment or a specific event?
My background is in public health, and I was working for an advocacy group on toxic chemicals in consumer products while raising three young children. I had assumed my leaders were taking care of the problem of climate change, but when the Waxman Markey bill failed in Congress, I realized that this crisis wasn’t going to be “solved” by someone else. As a public health professional, I was listening to the top experts in my field ringing alarm bells about the far-reaching health consequences of climate change. I decided it was up to me to help build the political will for action, to protect my kids’ health and future.
How did you get started? What were the first steps you took?
I learned about the work of Moms Clean Air Force, and was inspired by the vision of leveraging the power of moms to shift the national conversation on climate change. I started writing blog posts for the new website, and eventually was hired to help our co-founder Dominique Browning grow the project.
You're the Public Health Policy Director for Moms Clean Air Force, a community of over 1,000,000 moms and dads on a mission to protect children from air pollution and climate change. What does your role consist of? What's most exciting and most challenging about it? Can you give us an example of something you are most proud of that you were able to accomplish in this role?
I lead our advocacy campaigns to secure and defend air pollution protections. I develop our educational resources, manage media outreach, cultivate partnerships and collaborations with other organizations, and write about public health, science, and policy. I do a lot of work advocating for regulatory protections at the federal level that prioritize children’s health. I am most proud of my work helping moms share their stories and concerns at public hearings and in their lawmakers’ offices. I’ve worked with a lot of moms who have never spoken at a public hearing before, or never visited their Senator’s office, and that is probably my favorite thing to do. I love helping people feel confident in civic engagement. I believe that is the cornerstone of a thriving society, so there is nothing more gratifying to me than supporting a mom to raise her voice.
Molly Rauch (fourth from left) joined Moms Clean Air Force staff and volunteers in January at a Senate hearing where Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler answered questions about his efforts to undermine pollution protections. | Image Courtesy of Molly Rauch and aspireforequality
Why moms? How do you view the role of motherhood and parenting in building a more sustainable world? Do you think it's different or more relevant today than it was in the last few decades? Do you think it will be even more relevant in the future?
Moms have a secret superpower that drives us to be fierce advocates: it’s called Motherlove. It drives so many of our decisions, and it makes us amazing organizers, conveners, connecters, and doers. Moms are squarely focused on building a bright future for our kids, and we are passionate advocates for the changes we need to see. The climate crisis makes this more relevant than it’s ever been, and I know from working with amazing colleagues and our thousands of volunteers that moms are going to make change happen.
Moms Clean Air Force's mission also includes protecting children from exposure to toxic chemicals in consumer products. Why is this important and how do you get the message across to consumers who may not be aware or may feel overwhelmed and powerless?
Note: A core part of UpChoose mission is to democratize access to healthier and more sustainable consumption alternatives. This is why our children clothing service partners exclusively with certified organic clothing brands.
It is quite troubling to learn that babies are born with thousands of industrial chemicals detectable in their blood. And even more troubling to learn that we know very little about the health impacts of these exposures. Most people assume that the government is an effective gate-keeper, protecting us from harmful chemicals. But the process of chemical regulation is actually quite weak. Babies and children are exquisitely vulnerable to these exposures because their organ systems are still developing, and yet our regulators continue to favor the profits of the chemical industry above protecting our kids’ health. The thing is, moms should not be expected to be toxicologists – and industry cannot be expected to police themselves. We need a health-protective, child-centered regulatory system that prevents harmful chemicals from ever reaching the store shelves.
How do you connect — in your mind, in your work and in your own daily life — public policy issues like advocating for regulations and standards with your behaviors and choices?
There are many strands to transformational change. From individual behaviors, to consumer choices, to regulations, and more, we need everyone rowing in the same direction. If we keep our children’s health and future as a top priority, we will achieve a more sustainable, wholesome, equitable society.
Molly and Moms Clean Air Force are working to fight for clean air and a stable climate.
Any tips you'd like to share with other new or expecting parents who just heard about these issues and trying to figure out their first steps? What's the best way for someone reading this to get involved with your work?
Join us at Moms Clean Air Force! Learn about the issues, sign a petition, and check out our online events and conversations. We like to say to new moms that sometime being a good mom means being a good citizen.
What’s most exciting and uplifting to you about working on such massive and difficult challenges?
Getting to connect with other moms who are dedicated and passionate about making change is a real gift.
If you could have any superpower what would it be?
I’ve always wished I had an Adele-caliber singing voice. Does that count?
Favorite activities or game you play with the kid(s)?
Charades! It’s a Thanksgiving tradition.
About Moms Clean Air Force
Moms Clean Air Force is a community of over 1,000,000 moms and dads united against air pollution and committed to fighting for climate safety to protect our children's health. We work across the US on national and local policy issues, through a vibrant network of state-based field teams. We believe that protecting children’s health is a non-partisan issue. In fact, we think of ourselves as “Mompartisan.” Our moms meet with lawmakers at every level of government and on both sides of the political aisle to build support for commonsense solutions to pollution. Across the country we support local projects that help reduce air pollution, fight climate change, and improve the health of our children and families. Find your state chapter and learn how you can make a difference locally.
To learn more and get involved, you can join the force here.