Kelsey C. Skaggs

Co-Founder and Executive Director  

Climate Defense Project  

Berkeley, CA 


Kelsey Skaggs is co-founder and executive director of Climate Defense Project (CDP). CDP is a nonprofit that provides legal support to the climate movement, specializing in representation of people arrested for nonviolent civil disobedience against fossil fuel infrastructure such as pipelines. The organization works in areas including the necessity defense, expert witness retention, trial preparation, attorney education, and communications consulting. Kelsey has worked on conservation and environmental justice issues at Crag Law Center in Oregon, on international environmental policy at Universal Rights Group in Geneva, and in defense of free speech activists at Media Legal Defence Initiative in London. As a second-year law student, she launched Harvard Climate Justice Coalition v. Harvard: the first lawsuit to compel institutional fossil fuel divestment. She and her co-founders launched Climate Defense Project upon graduating from Harvard Law School. Kelsey is a 2019 member of Forbes 30 Under 30 and a recipient of the 2018 Echoing Green Climate fellowship, the 2018 Straubel Leadership Award, and the 2016 Harvard Law School Public Service Venture Fund Seed Grant. Kelsey is a Fellow of the third class of the Civil Society Fellowship, a Partnership of ADL and The Aspen Institute, and a member of the Aspen Global Leadership Network.