Raised on a farm in rural Maine, Chloe Maxmin, a 20-year-old "social-theory nerd," has been active in environmental campaigns since she was 12. In high school, she founded a nationally lauded climate-action club and an online network of young environmentalists. Now, she's taking on two of the world's most powerful forces: Big Oil and Harvard.
"There is an increasingly shrill refrain of 'Don't just sit there – do something!' " says Dr. Kevin Caffrey, Maxmin's Harvard adviser. "Chloe's one of the voices that says, 'Don't just do something – sit there and think about it first.' "
As one of the coordinators of Harvard's student-led divestment campaign, Maxmin, a sophomore, has become a national key player in the rapidly growing movement. "The fossil-fuel industry has a stranglehold on the system, so we're going to bypass it," she says. Last fall, Harvard students passed a referendum demanding the university untangle its $31 billion endowment from the fossil-fuel industry. Maxmin refuses to be daunted by the administration's chilly response. "My life has been taken over by divestment," she says, "and I can see it succeeding."