Alex Isaacson, ‘15
“Be aggressive. Be fearless.” That is how Michele Merkel, an environmental attorney, fights her battles. She claims that in order to achieve important accomplishments in environmental work, you have to be willing to go out on a limb. While this kind of work is high risk, politically difficult, and may result in verbal attacks, Michele has devoted her life to this work, fighting for the environment and the people who are most affected by environmental problems. While Michele has many criticisms of the environmental movement, one major problem she sees is that it is often a top down movement and that it needs to be a bottoms-up grassroots movement in order to accomplish great change.
President Eisenhower wrote about the qualities of a great leader, and the quality that Michele most exemplifies is fortitude. Eisenhower defines that quality as “fortitude of spirit—the capacity to stand strong under reverses, to rise from defeat and do battle again, to learn from one’s mistakes and push on to the ultimate goal.” Michele does just that; even when faced with defeat she does not give in and maintains her fighting spirit. If you ever need inspiration to fight for environmental change, talk with Michele and she will motivate you to change the world.