Saad Amer Mobilizes Voters With Celebrities and Instagram Filters
Name: Saad Amer
Hometown: Medford, N.Y.
Now lives: Shares a two-bedroom, walk-up apartment in Midtown Manhattan with a roommate and a dog.
Claim to fame: Saad Amer is a socially connected climate activist and founder of Plus1Vote, a nonprofit that mobilizes young voters through social media, fashion designers, celebrities and old-fashioned canvassing. Past initiatives include an Instagram Live with Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, an Instagram filter that allowed Bella Hadid and 300,000 other users to project the word “Vote” on their faces and free Uber rides to the polls. “There’s a lack of resources directed toward young people and people of color that authentically speak to the issues that we care about,” Mr. Amer said.
Big break: Mr. Amer’s environmental activism started when he was 13. With the help of his high school biology teacher, he campaigned to save a 98-acre property near Brookhaven, N.Y. from development. His efforts led to the establishment of the Fish Thicket Land Preserve, where students from the region can learn about climate change and ecology. The campaign was “very formative in my outlook and understanding of my own ability to organize and bring people into the natural world,” Mr. Amer said.
Latest project: For the midterm election next month, Mr. Amer spearheaded a voter mobilization campaign with V Magazine that features celebrities including Scarlett Johansson, Channing Tatum and Iman talking about the importance of voting. “Because fewer people tend to vote in midterms than in general elections, our votes count even more this November,” Mr. Amer said.
Next thing: Last month, Mr. Amer started Justice Environment, a consultancy based in New York that works with businesses, governments and nonprofits to become more sustainable. “We’re seeing the impacts of the climate crisis all around the world, from Pakistan to Puerto Rico to Florida,” he said. “And we’re finally seeing multibillion dollar investments from governments. They need guidance on how to move forward.”
Opening doors: As the son of Pakistani immigrants, Mr. Amer brings an outsider’s perspective to political organizing. “I grew up never seeing people that looked like me,” he said. “I was often the only person of color. But for each door that’s opened, I have tried to keep my foot in the door to allow other people to come in behind me.”