December 18, 2020
Navajo Nation, Arizona — The UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability presented the 2020 Pritzker Emerging Environmental Genius Award to Clara Pratte, a member of the Navajo Nation.
Clara is the Co-Founder and President of Navajo Power, a public-benefit corporation that develops utility scale clean energy infrastructure projects in partnership with tribal communities. “We committed to bringing solar to the Navajo Nation while benefiting local communities,” says Pratte, “We are changing the paradigm. We are building in a way that makes sense for tribal communities, at their direction, for their benefit. We often say if one home is without, we have failed. I can look in the eyes of local people and say ‘we are here for the long haul to work with you’ and know that it’s true.”
Pratte is also the Founder of Strongbow Strategies, a firm that assists tribal and governmental clients with business and technical issues with the broader goal of alleviating poverty and advancing tribal sovereignty. She has the honor of serving on the Transition Team for President-Elect Joe Biden after serving as his Director of Tribal Engagement on the campaign trail, providing critical leadership that brought unprecedented turnout of the Native vote. When she’s not working, she’s kept even busier by her two adorable young boys, Joey and Jack, and loving husband Joe.
The annual award carries a prize of $100,000, which is funded through a portion of a $20 million gift to UCLA from the Anthony and Jeanne Pritzker Family Foundation. It is the field’s first major honor specifically for innovators under the age of 40 – those whose work stands to benefit most from the prize money and the prestige it conveys.
Clara was chosen as winner by a panel of four distinguished judges: Anousheh Ansari, CEO of XPrize Foundation; Kevin de León, Los Angeles City Councilmember; Lori Garver, CEO of Earthrise Alliance; and Kara Hurst, head of worldwide sustainability at Amazon.
“I don’t need to convince this crowd that climate change is an existential threat,” de León said. “We cannot solve it unless all individuals can access the latest and greatest energy technologies and live in a sustainable community.”
Pratte said the award, which was presented Dec. 16 in an online ceremony, brought to mind traditional wisdom: “There’s a Navajo saying that when there’s a world to heal, there’s going to be a mother to do it — a woman to do it.”