Galvanized by the climate crisis and experience organizing on a local political campaign, Saunders drafted, lobbied for, testified on behalf of, and mobilized communities around a resolution in Virginia’s legislature that would have made the state the first in the nation to declare global warming a climate and ecological emergency. Although the bill failed to pass in early 2020, its introduction kick-started an enduring grassroots movement in Virginia that led to the bill’s reintroduction in 2021 and ignited a passion in Saunders for climate advocacy, policy, and public service.
Saunders carried his motivation for service to Pittsburgh, where he served as an AmeriCorps VISTA supporting the city’s civil rights agency to engage more deliberately with the region’s robust immigrant, refugee, and asylee populations on fair housing issues and combat unjust evictions during the coronavirus pandemic. His work continued to illuminate the inseparable connection between housing and community inclusion, economic mobility, and sustainability, while underscoring the importance of public trust in government. Saunders intends to forge a career in local governance tackling the biggest challenges a rapidly changing climate poses to urban centers in America. Saunders holds a B.A. in International Politics from Penn State.