Vanessa Glavinskas 3 minute read

Meet the mother-daughter duo fighting climate change together


Hazel Chandler was nursing her newborn son when she grew concerned. 

“I was reading as I fed him, and I came across a report that said if we continue to burn fossil fuels, by 2050, we’d have global warming and a very different world,” she says. “I looked down at my new baby and I thought ‘I have to do something about this.’” 

Jen and Hazel Chandler standing with their arms around each other
Jen Chandler and her mother, Hazel, have made fighting climate change a family tradition. (Courtesy Hazel Chandler)

That was in 1968.  

By the time her second child — a daughter named Jen — was born in 1976, Chandler was a card-carrying environmentalist. 

“I was a part of the very first Earth Day in 1970,” she recalls. Now 78 years old, she hasn’t slowed down. As a founding member of Elders Climate Action, Chandler mobilizes other grandparents to protect future generations from climate change. She’s also a field organizer for Moms Clean Air Force, an affiliate of Environmental Defense Fund. “Air quality impacts people’s health every single day, especially our kids,” she says. 

Despite fighting stage 4 cancer, she still makes several trips a year from her home in Phoenix, Arizona, to Washington, D.C. to talk to lawmakers. 

Her personal story lends power to her advocacy. “I have asthma and cancer — both major health issues that are made worse by air pollution,” she says. 

“There’s a cumulative effect to living where it’s polluted,” she adds, pointing out that Phoenix’s air quality routinely gets a failing grade from the American Lung Association. “It infuriates me when people complain of a chronic cough for 10 years, and then say the EPA is over-regulating.”

Passing on her activism

Of Hazel's three children, both mother and daughter agree that Jen is the born activist.

Hazel Chandler pushing her newborn Jen in a stroller in 1976
Three-month-old Jen Chandler at the U.S. Bicentennial with her mother, Hazel. (Courtesy Hazel Chandler)

“I’ve been meeting with legislators since I was a kid,” says Jen Chandler with a chuckle. 

“I dragged Jen along to events for all kinds of causes — the environment, social justice, AIDS, you name it,” recalls Hazel.

Those moments deeply influenced her, and Jen, now 48, made fighting climate change her full-time job as the director for Elders Climate Action. “As the largest voting bloc, older people have a huge amount of political power,” Jen says. 

The mother/daughter duo have gone on lobby days, and are advocates for intergenerational activism. 

Kids are the best ice-breakers, Jen says, remembering a meeting with Arizona Representative Ann Kirkpatrick that had everyone laughing when a 5-year-old took over the representative’s desk. “When you include children, you might have kids running through the halls of Congress,” she says. “But it changes how the legislators respond — in a good way.” 

Hazel agrees. “I believe we make the most impact when we unite across the generations to raise our voices for action on climate,” she says. “That’s very powerful for decision-makers because it shows that we all want a livable planet.”

To do that, both Jen and Hazel believe in getting kids involved young. “Start by teaching them to love nature,” Hazel suggests. 

“Bring kids to the places where decisions are being made,” Jen adds. “I think I’m so comfortable meeting with lawmakers today because I’ve always been in those spaces — ever since I was a kid — because my mom brought me along.”

We've made more progress in the last four years than we have in the 54 years that I’ve been involved in the environmental movement.

Hazel Chandler

A family legacy

The predictions of increasingly severe storms, wildfires and other catastrophes caused by a warming world that Hazel first read about in 1968 are already coming true. 

A table being staffed asking people to sign up for environmental causes
Hazel says her great-grandkids keep her going: "I just have to be able to say I’ve done everything possible to give them a livable world." (

Still, both Chandler women find hope in the progress already made. 

“We’ve gotten a lot done since that first Earth Day,” Hazel says. “I'm still trying to sort through all the wonderful things happening right now: The Inflation Reduction Act, a ton of new EPA regulations to protect us from pollution."

"We've made more progress in the last four years than we have in the 54 years that I’ve been involved in the environmental movement,” she adds.

Jen is proud to have followed in her mom’s footsteps. 

“I love lobbying with my mom because I deeply enjoy watching others react to her,” Jen says. “People really go to her as a resource, as a wisdom-keeper. I hope I can carry that on.”

Hope for a warming planet

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