Emerging Young Leader Award

Madison Vorva


From November 2013 through January 15th, 2014, we asked: Are you a young woman who dreams of leading in politics? Or do you know one? After receiving almost 300 nominations of young women with demonstrated leadership ability and a passion to change the world, we’ve carefully chosen the 10 most outstanding nominees to be our semifinalists. Now it’s their turn. These 10 young women have a chance to get everyone voting so that they can become one of the 5 finalists. Our 5 finalists will be great role models for their peers, tireless advocates for the causes they care about, and leaders in all areas of their lives. Running Start will feature the finalists at our 8th Annual Women to Watch Awards in Washington, DC on April 2, 2014. The Finalists will share the stage with four high-powered women leaders who Running Start will also honor. The winner will be announced at the Awards ceremony.


Madison Vorva headshot Name: Madison Vorva
Age: 18
From: Plymouth, Michigan
Claim to fame: United Nations “Forest Hero” for Girl Scout Cookie campaign to save rainforests

Why is Madison an Emerging Young Leader?

About Madison: Hey! I’m Madison, a freshman at Pomona College, studying environmental analysis and international relations. I’m a dancer, twin, and small-town Midwesterner turned California girl. I’ve been an animal lover my entire life, and was inspired by Dr. Jane Goodall’s selfless conservation efforts to co-found my own environmental campaign, Project ORANGS. From visits to corporate boardrooms, congressmen’s offices and classrooms, my mission is to empower girls and remind consumers that their everyday purchases have global impacts. I firmly believe that young people can change the world because we dream in a way that is not limited by an adult’s perspective.

Why Madison is an Emerging Young Leader:  I became an environmental and women’s rights advocate when I was 11. I co-founded a campaign 7 years ago (projectorangs.org) asking Girl Scouts USA (GSUSA) to adopt a palm oil policy for their cookies after learning that unsustainable palm oil was linked to deforestation, carbon emissions, species endangerment, and human rights abuses. We collected signatures from over 140,000 consumers and Dr.Jane Goodall. I’ve educated millions of consumers through interviews in The Wall Street Journal, TIME, NPR, CBS, and ABC. I designed a “Rainforest Hero” badge with the Philadelphia Zoo, which hundreds of Scouts earned. In 2011, GSUSA announced a palm oil policy, the first policy change driven directly by the efforts of girls in the organization’s 101 year history. In 2012, we pressured Kellogg to purchase Greenpalm certificates for their entire palm oil use and I’m working with them to design a deforestation-free palm oil policy. In Colombia, I met with communities that had been displaced by the paramilitary, their stolen land sold to palm oil corporations. In Burma, I attended the “Women’s Forum on the Economy and Society” as an ANNPower Global Delegate with Vital Voices, reminding my peers that women’s rights are closely linked to environmental justice. I’ve met with leaders to speak about the politics of the global palm oil industry including Lisa Jackson, Melanne Verveer, Senators, Congressmen, Food Security staff at the State Department, and USAID officials at the US Embassies in Colombia and Cambodia. I’ve inspired thousands of students through presentations and my youth empowerment/advocacy website.

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