Kathy Jetñil-Kijiner

Photo of Kathy Jetñil-Kijiner

Poet, Performer and Educator


  • Organiser,
  • Artist,
  • Expedition Team

Kathy is a Marshall Islander poet, performance artist, educator. She received international acclaim through her poetry performance at the opening of the United Nations Climate Summit in New York in 2014. Her writing and performances have been featured by CNN, Democracy Now, the Huffington Post, NBC News, National Geographic, and more. In February 2017, the University of Arizona Press published her first collection of poetry, Iep Jāltok: Poems from a Marshallese Daughter.

Kathy also co-founded the youth environmentalist non-profit Jo-Jikum dedicated to empowering Marshallese youth to seek solutions to climate change and other environmental impacts threatening their home island. Kathy has been selected as one of 13 Climate Warriors by Vogue in 2015 and the Impact Hero of the Year by Earth Company in 2016. She received her Master’s in Pacific Island Studies from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa.

"I was born in the Marshall Islands, raised in Hawai’i, and am currently based in Majuro, the capital city of the Marshall Islands. My primary creative practice explores my culture’s rich storytelling and how they intersect and dialogue with evolving issues threatening our islands and community. My focus has been climate change and the legacy of nuclear testing in the Marshall Islands. I share these explorations through the mediums of poetry, performance, and media. This practice is also informed by the community organizing I spearhead through the Marshall Islands based nonprofit Jo-Jikum that I co-founded and direct, a nonprofit dedicated to Marshallese youth and environmentalism. In addition to continuing to write and run Jo-Jikum, I am currently serving as Climate Envoy for the Marshall Islands Ministry of Environment, and pursuing my PhD in Pacific Studies at Australia National University. At this time, I am not taking performance or speaking requests."