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Who We Are

Meet the Team: Meet the Team

Mary Catherine Hanafee LaPlante


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Mary Catherine is a current freshman at Harvard University studying economics and government. She founded Speak Up Green Up because she believes that our future depends on the decisions made now to mitigate the harmful effects of climate change on the world. Mary Catherine is the co-finance director for the IL Youth Climate Movement, captain of her school's Varsity Science Olympiad team, and was an intern at the US Environmental Protection Agency in 2019. In addition to her work with Speak Up Green Up, she is partnering with the IL School Counselor Association to improve student-counselor relations in District 214 and serves on the board of directors for She Votes IL, a female-centered PAC. Mary Catherine also founded the Harvard VISION club at her school, which teaches leadership through community service. For her work, Mary Catherine has been recognized as a 2019 HERlead fellow, 2020 Disney Dreamer, 2020 Ashoka STEM for Changemaking Winner, and Cameron Impact Scholarship Finalist. In her free time, she enjoys playing softball and lacrosse, running, sleeping, and spending time with her friends and family.


Jeongmin Lee

Outreach Director

Jeongmin is a senior at Prospect High School in Mount Prospect, Illinois. He joined Speak Up Green Up because he believes that our nation does not put enough effort towards solving the climate crisis, and he hopes that he can make a difference in his own community, no matter how small. He believes that our local communities have a responsibility to protect our environment. In addition to being the outreach director at Speak Up Green Up, Jeongmin is the Captain of the school Speech team and Tennis team. He also serves as the Social Media Director for Red Pocket Magazine, a literary magazine for youth of the Asian diaspora. In college, Jeongmin wants to study sociology, public policy, or economics.


Gurleen Virk 

Social Media Director

Gurleen Virk is currently a senior at Prospect High School in Mount Prospect, Illinois. She joined Speak Up Green Up because she wanted to help make a difference in her community regarding different environmental and climate issues. She hopes that by instilling change in her community she can help restore and protect our environment. In addition to being the social media director for Speak Up Green Up, Gurleen is a Varsity swimmer on her high school swim team and Co-President and Founder of Uknightforminds, a mental health awareness club at her school. In her free time, she enjoys watching movies, playing softball, swimming, and hanging out with friends. In college, Gurleen hopes to study psychology. 

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