Daniela Fernandez

2016 Christopher Benchley Youth Award

21-year-old Daniela Fernandez, a government major now in her Junior Year at Georgetown University, is the founder and President of the Georgetown ‘Sustainable Oceans Alliance’ (SOA), “a student led organization that empowers Millennials to become leaders in preserving the health and sustainability of our oceans.” After a chance trip to the United Nations in 2013 where she learned that the oceans’ fish could be gone by 2050 affecting the global economy, food chains, and tourism, Fernandez decided to she had to take action. “I was honestly terrified of the repercussion of what’s happening to the oceans and the impact this would have on my life,” she said. She returned to start the first chapter of SOA to educate and empower the Georgetown community and Millennials, in particular, to do something about ocean sustainability in their careers—regardless of whether they are going into finance, banking, health, or teaching. Fernandez and SOA also wanted to create a platform to bring together multiple universities and sustainability experts. This led to the first annual ‘Sustainable Oceans Summit’ with more than 30 colleges and universities participating to learn from ocean luminaries and leaders in government, science, business, and policy. Along with Fernandez’ work on the Alliance and her course work, she also sits on the University’s Licensing and Oversight Committee, Environmental Committee, Board of Governors and is a student leader of the Georgetown Global Social Enterprise Initiative. Fernandez believes that her generation is the key to bringing more attention to the problem of ocean sustainability and solving some of the world’s most pressing challenges.