Leo Goldsmith serves as a climate and health specialist at the U.S. Global Change Research Program. In this role he coordinates a federal interagency group on climate and health. Previously, he consulted on an environmental/climate justice mapping tool for the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, provided logistical support for various stakeholders for the sustainable Upper Harbor Terminal Project in Minneapolis, and coordinated ecological restoration and community engagement projects at the New York Restoration Project. His research focuses on how climate change disproportionately impacts the health of the LGBTQ+ population, primarily those with intersecting marginalized identities. His interests stem from his own personal identities as a queer, transgender Latino and his passion for intersectional climate justice.

Here, Leo reminisces about his time at Yale as the "swagatery" of the Forestry Club, hiking in a cloud forest, and attending shows at the Yale Cabaret. 

Why Yale?
I chose to attend the Yale School of the Environment because the school supports students to pursue interdisciplinary studies and break new ground.


What is the most enduring memory of your time at Yale?
I once took a course on tropical ecology in which there was a week-long trip to Panama. The students of the class had the opportunity to hike in a cloud forest, and when we reached the very top, you could see for miles. It was the first time that it hit me that I can do almost anything I set my mind to.


If you could relive your time at Yale, what would you do differently?
If I could relive my time at Yale, I would not have done a third of the extracurriculars I did. I definitely took on too much, as we all tend to do, and I wish I had kept some more protected time to decompress, relax, and pour my heart into a few activities I was the most passionate about. Something I definitely recommend.

What would you do exactly the same? 
All those moments I spent organizing on-campus community events and selling Yale School of the Environment swag as the “swagatery” of the Forestry Club.

What is your favorite place in New Haven, past or present? 
My favorite place in New Haven is Westville! Bella’s Cafe, Strange Ways, and the Mew Haven Cat Cafe are some of my favorite places to go to.

What is your favorite spot on campus?
My favorite spot on campus is the Yale Cabaret! I’ve seen some great shows there and my yearly favorite is the Dragaret.

What's your favorite pizza place in New Haven?
Although this may be controversial, my favorite pizza place is Modern Apizza.

Who is another Yalie who inspires you? Why?
Steve Whittaker, a former postdoc for the Jackson Institute of Global Affairs and Michelle L. Bell’s research lab, is a Yalie who has inspired me greatly. His passion for understanding and mitigating the impact of climate change on human health, especially those who will be disproportionately impacted in the Caribbean, led me down the career path I have chosen today.

What have you gained from your alumni engagement with Yale?
I unfortunately have not been able to participate in alumni engagement with Yale much during the pandemic, but hope to do so in the future!

How did your time at Yale shape the person you are today?
Yale provided the opportunity for me to learn professional skills I otherwise would not have and helped me to cultivate the confidence to use my voice to create change.

What is your hope for the future of the Yale alumni community?
My hope is that equity will be the forefront and main focus of the Yale alumni community and that alumni will become more involved in their local communities and environment.

What advice would you give to current students? 
Consider getting involved in the New Haven community and trying out new activities! I would also, if you can, take some trips to surrounding towns, beaches, and parks, and enjoy all Connecticut has to offer.


How would you answer? Share your responses with the YAA and they might be featured in an upcoming edition of "Getting to Know You." 

And be sure to check out all the Q&As in the series by visiting our Getting to Know You page.

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