Meggie Schmidt Hollinger – Senior Program Manager, Google Search Product Inclusion
Meggie is committed to supporting community organizations that focus on the intersection of environmentalism and racial & social justice. As a Senior Program Manager at Google, she works on Product Inclusion across Search – addressing misinformation and reducing stereotyping & misrepresentation as it relates to underrepresented groups.
What is the educational and career path that led to your current career?
I studied Art History at Hobart & William Smith in Upstate New York, and interned at various art museums and organizations throughout college. I have always been passionate about cultivating community around art and activism. Graduating during the recession, I found my first job in advertising. Working as a Program Manager, I genuinely enjoyed connecting with people and honed critical skills around organization and process development. Outside of work, I helped found an intersectional, female performance ensemble that ran multi-media events within our local creative community in Brooklyn. A good friend on the West Coast recruited me to Google, where I partnered with her and others to define the UX Program Manager discipline.
I’ve worked for Google for seven years. Initially, I drove efforts like the rollout of Material Design to Search, the Google logo redesign, and the launch of the Google Assistant. In time, I moved to a Technical Program Management role leading feature development for the Google Assistant. In my current role, I am the Senior Program Manager for Search Product Inclusion which focuses on addressing misinformation, reducing stereotyping and misrepresentation, and increasing ecosystem diversity as it relates to underrepresented groups. I deeply value that my role creates space to have nuanced conversations about racial equity and social justice across our team, and that it brings us closer to designing and building for everyone.
I am invested in understanding intersectionality within the environmental justice movement. The impact of climate change is felt deeply in frontline and underserved communities. I want to apply the same empathetic, designing thinking methods that I use in my role on Search Product Inclusion to addressing the environmental crisis.
How did you become interested in environmental work?
My Dad is an environmental lawyer, beginning his career at the NJDEP in the 1980s by implementing seminal New Jersey environmental statutes. From a young age, he exposed me to both the impact of environmental protection & remediation, and taught me to appreciate our natural resources through his deep love of gardening. Silent Spring by Rachel Carson inspired by Dad to pursue environmentalism, and encouraged me to explore how compelling storytelling plays a critical role in stoking activism. This education reinforced that we have a civic imperative to preserve our environment.
What in your community inspires you to take action?
I am very drawn to community-based organizations that focus on environmental justice, in particular:
- Intersectional Environmentalist, founded by activist Leah Thomas of greengirlleah@, which focuses on dismantling systems of oppression in the environmental movement. Their organization brings together environmentalists and social justice advocates to amplify BIPOC voices. You can dive into their wealth of educational resources, listen to their Dismantled podcast, and support them financially here.
- Sogorea Te Land Trust, an Indigenous women-led organization in the San Francisco Bay Area that supports rematriation and land restoration to Indigenous people. It is very important to uplift organizations like this that focus on cultivating Indigenous history, acknowledging the sacred, ancestral relationship to land, and supporting the material needs of the Indigenous community. If you are a non-Indigeous person living on traditional Lisjan Ohlone territory, I recommend you pay an annual Shuumi Land Tax to support their critical work. You can also view their wish list of in-kind donations here.
- Celebration Nation is a non-profit that shines a light on mutual aid opportunities for LatinX farm workers. Its founder Flor Martinez of flowersinspanish@ is known for illuminating critical equity issues in agriculture and food production. You can currently contribute to their campaign for Mommy & Baby Care for Farm Workers and Fruits of Labor Food Bank.
- Mandela Grocery is a worker-owned co-op grocery store in West Oakland that provides produce and products from local Black & Brown farmers and food makers. They are an excellent example of the broader impact that hyper-local organizations can have on the chain of food distribution and people’s access to healthy food.
What are your suggestions on how WEN members can become more involved in the environmental movement?
One of the biggest impacts we can have is locally – elevating and supporting groups in our community that work at the intersection of environmentalism, racial equity & social justice.
The examples I offer above show organizations I’ve found through research, coworkers, and friends that have roots in my city and state. I highly recommend searching for related ones where you live. You can start by asking friends who are connected to the environmental movement which voices they follow, seek out local co-ops that share these values to identify who they partner with, and find local chapters of global movements to join (like the Sunrise Movement Hubs). All We Can Save, a collection of essays and poetry on climate change edited by Ayana Elizabeth Johnson and Katharine Wilkinson, does an incredible job of sharing examples of how the environmental movement is deeply influenced by people, primarily BIPOC women, standing up on behalf of their community.
Everyone has a role to play, and there is so much we can do by investing in and amplifying the work of existing local organizations. Through the East Bay Permanent Real Estate Collective, I learned about the 8 Forms of Capital by Ethan Roland & Gregory Landua, which point to a variety of ways that one can contribute to community activism and environmental causes – intellectual, spiritual, social, material, financial, living, cultural, and experiential capital.
There are so many valuable ways to contribute, where will you start?