National Press Club

Club member travels to Antarctica to tell climate change story from penguin’s perspective

June 13, 2017 | By Danny Selnick |

National Press Club member Maggie Dewane shot a video about climate change that featured an Antarctica penguin.

National Press Club member Maggie Dewane shot a video about climate change that featured an Antarctica penguin.

A new National Press Club member who recently traveled to Antarctica to make a video about climate change doesn’t mince words in her reaction to President Donald J. Trump’s move to pull the United States out of the Paris climate agreement.

“I think it’s a shameful and pathetic decision,” said Maggie Dewane, a communications and press officer at the Environmental Investigation Agency and a member of the Club’s Communicator Team. “While the Paris Agreement is not binding nor lays out country-specific plans for reaching climate goals, the United States was the leader in bringing the world together. In a rare instance of global unity, countries acknowledged the need to be responsible stewards of our planet; this agreement set us on the path for working together to do so.”

Dewane is motivated by public service as well as environmental policy and conservation, which drew her to her job at the international nonprofit organization.

She traveled to Antarctica in March to learn about climate change.

Her observations and interviews led her to make a video that tells the story of global warming from the perspective of one of the world's most iconic birds -- the penguin.

“Climate change is an existential problem that’s hard to relate to, that seems far removed from our daily lives,” Dewane said. “By giving face to climate change through a charismatic and curious penguin, I thought the video could reach and resonate with more people.”

Dewane’s trip to the bottom of the globe also resulted in recognition for her photography. She recently won a DC EcoWomen People’s Choice Award photo contest for a shot, “In the Midst of Climate Change,” taken at Petermann Island, Antarctica.

While Dewane has been on communicator side of story-telling for the past three years, she could have become a journalist.

She was managing editor of Seton Hall University’s The Stillman Exchange, the first undergraduate business publication in the country. Modeling itself after the Wall Street Journal, the publication covers business, international and domestic, campus news -- and even has an ethics section.

After graduation, Maggie worked on Capitol Hill for two-and-a-half years as executive assistant and projects specialist to the late U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey.

She earned a master’s degree in environmental science and policy from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs and served as online senior editor of the Journal of International Affairs.

Danny Selnick, Communicator Team co-leader, asked Dewane about her experience at the Club and more about her background:

Why did you become a member of the National Press Club and then get involved with the Communicator Team?
After attending a few NPC-sponsored events, I wanted to be a part of what seemed like a “cool kids” club and enjoy the professional development and educational opportunities. I got involved with the Communicator Team and was welcomed as a new member. I was drawn to the opportunity of being active and involved with the Press Club even though I’m not a journalist — when I first heard about the press club, I thought it was only for journalists!

Tell us more about Maggie Dewane. Do you have any hobbies besides environmental issues?
In my spare time I paint and write. I have an Etsy shop and some of my poetry has been published online, plus I’m currently working on a children’s book. I play soccer with DC Fray and volunteer with the National Park Service (there’s a series on the National Mall and Memorial Park’s Facebook page called #MaggieOnTheMall, that’s me!). When I’m not in DC, I’m trekking out to new hiking and camping spots with my dog, Argos. I also travel a lot for fun, as my job allows me the flexibility to work remotely. Some recent trips have included the Pacific Northwest, Chile, Switzerland, and road tripping through Colorado, Utah and New Mexico.