Alexandra ‘Ali’ Boutros is a second year Masters Student in the UC Santa Cruz Coastal Science & Policy Program. As a Lebanese-American woman living in the United States, Ali is keenly aware of how detrimental political corruption, greed and war have been to Lebanon’s natural resources and ecosystems. She understands how interconnected human and environmental health are and has watched the Lebanese people suffer as a result of environmental degradation. In Lebanon, the people have had no say in how their environment is managed or protected. Ali understands the privilege she has in the United States, where citizens can advocate for themselves and the environment. This insight has inspired her to work in the highly interconnected space of human-environmental systems, where she hopes to have a positive impact. Her academic and professional goals are to: leverage community involvement and leadership in ecological restoration; and identify best practices for such efforts based on her Capstone master’s research on community-led kelp forest restoration in California. Her research project is being grounded, in part, by folks at The Nature Conservancy-California and the California Department of Fish & Wildlife. Additionally, Ali is a newly accepted member of the 2023-2024 US Cohort for the Sustainable Ocean Alliance & Environmental Defense Fund’s Leadership for Climate Resilient Fisheries Fellowship. This fellowship provides Ali with invaluable career & capacity building opportunities as well as financial support to conduct her research.